A Steak in Ag


R-CALF USA may be defined as a non-profit producer organization, but our work benefits anyone who eats meat and lives in an economy that includes agriculture. We’re more than a producer organization; we’re your organization.
R-CALF USA believes that USDA’s action to allow raw Brazilian beef imports is purely political and terribly reckless.
R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement for the nearly simultaneous market reopening (the U.S. market to raw Brazilian beef and Brazil is reopening its market to U.S. beef) reads like talking points created by high-paid, multinational meatpacker lobbyists.
Vilsack stated in his announcement: “The Brazilian market offers excellent long-term potential for U.S. beef exporters. The United States looks forward to providing Brazil’s 200-million-plus consumers, and growing middle class, with high-quality American beef and beef products.”
R-CALF USA thinks this is absurd. Brazil produces far more beef than it can consume. This is why, with the world’s second largest cattle herd, which far and away dwarfs the size of the U.S. herd, Brazil is the world’s third largest beef exporter, behind only India and Australia. And like India and Australia, Brazil’s imports of U.S. beef for longer than a decade before it closed its borders to U.S. beef in 2003 were miniscule.
Additionally, Brazil lacks the resources and infrastructure to maintain health and safety standards that are at least equal to that of the United States. That is why the USDA lowered the U.S. standard to that of mere equivalency – which essentially means, “close enough.”
This reckless action by the Secretary, which helps multinational meatpackers leverage down U.S. cattle prices with increased imports that do not meet identical U.S. safety standards is yet another in a long line of failures by the USDA to do anything to strengthen the economic condition of the U.S. cattle industry.
Even the Secretary’s depiction of exports over the past seven years as they relate to this particular announcement is deceitful at best. While the Secretary boasts that “the past seven years have represented the strongest period in history for American agricultural exports,” this irresponsible statement purposely omits the fact that while the dollar value of beef and cattle exports did increase over the past seven years, they were decisively overwhelmed by record imports, which caused the trade deficit for our industry to grow from less than $1 billion in 2009 to more than $2.5 billion in 2015.
We at R-CALF USA could not be more disappointed in the Secretary’s actions, which clearly demonstrate he is advocating the interests of multinational meatpackers at the expense of independent U.S. farmers and ranchers and consumers.
The R-CALF USA Convention is Aug. 26-27 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. For additional information on any of the topics mentioned, please visit www.r-calfusa.com.
R-CALF USA is funded solely by donations and membership dues. For more info or to join, go to www.r-calfusa.com, (406) 252-2516.

Laurel Masterson is Organizational Activities director for R-CALF USA.



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