The Market's Fine Print

Of Primaries and Prime Rib

What if we could vote and buy tasty beef at the same time? DTN Livestock Analyst John Harrington has a modest suggestion. (Photo by grassrootsgroundswell, CC BY 2.0; DTN photo illustration by Nick Scalise)

If you ask me, the second quarter of 2016 is off to a shaky start in more ways than one. Not only is seasonal beef demand experiencing great difficulty in locating the first rung on the ladder to Memorial Day, neither one of our major political parties seems to be making real progress in crowning a presidential nominee.

Given the way beef cut-outs have plunged lower over the last several weeks (e.g., the choice box has lost nearly $17 since mid-March), spring fever is currently no more contagious than ingrown toenails. Maybe a ravenous May pole is still waiting in the wings to spin wholesale prices sharply higher. But we sure haven't seen much in terms of sparks or powder.

And then there's the great political circus that flatly refuses to fold its tent, load up the elephants (and donkeys), and leave town. It's not my place in this space to advocate for Hillary, "The Donald," or anyone to the left or right. But for the love of free men and women with throbbing headaches everywhere, could we find a way to accelerate what seems to be an interminable process?

For what it's worth, I have an idea, a scheme that just might work to kill two birds with one stone. Brace yourself, and promise to swallow your first reaction. Ready? Let's combine beef selling with voting, either by installing a meat counter in voting locations or by selling beef cuts at established polling locations.

If we're clever enough, a critical synergy could be tapped, successfully employing candidates to sell beef and beef to sell candidates. Here's what such a "win-win" situation might look like.

Bernie Burgers: Grass-fed; all-natural; 100% organic; antibiotic-free; raised on Democratically-voting family farms dedicated to sustainable agriculture and income redistribution; harvested from happy and toothless cattle, gently counseled in end-of-life options; altogether contributed by slaughter volunteers, humanely euthanized by professional teams trained in hospice care.

Secretary of State Strips: Enjoy diplomatic middle cuts at their best with each and every serving artfully designed to please whatever taste you yearn for at the moment. Forget about consistency of breed, number of days on feed, or ultimate performance. The important thing is that this product leaves exactly the taste in your month you were looking for. If not, just send it back to our flexible kitchen and we'll quickly slice one more to your liking. Remember, when it comes to turning delicious steaks on the grill, nothing flip-flops like SSS.

Tournedos of Trump: Absolutely the greatest steaks ever produced, exceeding the USDA's highest grade and stamped with the coveted "T," exquisite fare fit for kings, billionaires, and selective contributors to the Republican Party. Each sumptuous cut comes from bovine so pampered that they make their wagyu cousins in Japan look tortured. Savor every world-class bite while monitoring a nonstop twitter feed on making your beef appetite great again (#theirallidiotsbesidesme).

Lying Ted's Barbecue Brisket: For those looking for the true conservative in beef production and processing, nothing satisfies like LT's extra, extra lean brisket twisting on a seasoned spit like bureaucrats in the middle of a government shutdown. The hot patriotic sauce is top secret, but discerning palates at both Fox and MSNBC detect a strong Second Amendment base spiced with a hawkish foreign policy and an uncompromising flat tax. This brisket may not be for every sniveling coward with a pompadour, but they sure love it in Texas.

Besides these main features lining the path to the ballot box, total beef sales could be further stimulated by a large offering of heavily discounted brands, near forgotten items with long expired dates of freshness. Stuff like Christie's Thick Cut, Jeb's Everyday Meatloaf, and Biden's Baloney.

Hey, I think it's worth a shot. Heads, we elect the right person and sell a significant amount of beef in the process. Tails, we don't.

John Harrington can be reached at

Follow John Harrington on Twitter @feelofthemarket