Recently, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) published a list of facts on common beef market myths which was sent to Congressional constituents in an attempt to derail ongoing support for the Senators Rounds and Smith letter to Attorney General Garland. The Rounds/Smith letter directs the government, specifically the Attorney General Office, to investigate the meatpacker stranglehold over our meat processing markets and if any violations of anti-trust laws and fair competition principles are occurring.
In their letter to Congressional leaders, NAMI spouts many falsehoods and attempts to create many shallow myths. Within their first myth NAMI attempt to disclaim USDA’s figures that show the four largest packers control over 85% of the processing market. To substantiate their shallow claim they separate the fed slaughter from non-fed slaughter thereby reducing their market control to 70%. Sorry NAMI, fed slaughter and non-fed slaughter are both processed meat and in addition, imported meats which are justified as necessary mixing ingredients for fed slaughter are 100% captive supply controlled by you (the big4)!
NAMI attempts to sway producer support from Congress by claiming cattle markets are functioning as economics would predict as to when cattle supplies increase, prices decrease, and – vice versa. This claim is a falsehood as evidenced by the markets for the past 6 years where the U.S. cow herd is at the lowest level since the 1980s and prices at the retail counters are at record highs. What NAMI is failing to factor in is the ever-expanding import supplies which translate into captive supplies for market manipulation. They claim these imported supplies do not hurt domestic supply prices as they are lean product necessary for ground beef grinding but the fact remains clear that 35% of our domestic production is in direct price competition with imports.
Also in NAMI’s attempt to justify imports as a good management tool for U.S. producers, they cite a U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) statistic claiming exports average a 68% premium over imported meats. This claim validates the need for an Attorney General and DOI investigation as it substantiates the profiteering of packers over non-fed domestic producer cattle!
Probably the most callous myth NAMI attempts to defuse is, “Large price disparities are leading independent cattle producers to go broke.” They justify this as a myth because Congress provided a safety net through CFAP to get through this (COVID) once-in-a-lifetime event! Well, these market swings have been occurring nearly weekly at the will of the packer, generated through curtailing market participation on any given time period. For many producer families, unfortunately, NAMI is correct in that market swings are often a once-in-a-lifetime event as generations of family ranching heritage come to an end!
In conclusion, let’s move on from Myths to Facts:
NAMI concludes their rant with the statement,” The North American Meat Industry is the leading voice for the meat and poultry industry.” They fail to mention this meat industry lobbying attempt is funded by producer checkoff dollars compliments of independent family cattle producers. As producers, your mandatory checkoff dollars fund Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) authorization requests (ARs) to do communication, promotion, and research projects of which NAMI (your checkoff contractor) has received hundreds of thousands of dollars. Each AR contains implementation fees which upon crossing over that mythical firewall often transform into lobbying efforts against producer interests! NAMI consistently charges a 20% implementation fee resulting in tens of thousands of your hard-earned dollars bolstering packer interests over producer livelihoods.
To take back control of your checkoff dollars go to checkoffvote.com and sign up for a referendum for the first vote in 35 years!
Organization for Competitive Markets
P.O. Box 6486
Lincoln, NE 68506
Organization for Competitive Markets