R-CALF USA Sets Goals

Long-Range Plan Outlined for the Cattle Industry

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
R-CALF USA released its five-year plan for the cattle industry, divided among six, core areas of change and growth. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Robert Lagerstrom)

With its nonconformist reputation among cattle organizations, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) has made its share of news over the years. But as 2020 comes to a close, the group has taken a new turn and released its first five-year plan. The plan is focused around those areas R-CALF members believe are key to achieving long-term prosperity for U.S. cattle producers as well as their rural communities.

The plan has folks talking, even bringing commentary to this editor's email from cattlemen who are not only on board with the plan but feel its "producer-first" focus is something sorely needed in cattle country today. To quote the sentiment from one such email, home-state Arkansas, "I can stay in the cattle business with a plan like this."

Bill Bullard, R-CALF USA CEO, told DTN that not only has his group never put forth a five-year plan before, but to his knowledge such a plan has never been put forth purely for the cattle industry in the past. "It's been done for the beef industry, but not exclusively for the cattle industry," he said.

The R-CALF plan is lengthy and divided into six core areas, each of which contains multiple goals. Summarizing, those six core areas include a focus on how to: (1) Grow Demand for U.S. Born, Raised and Harvested Beef; (2) Strengthen the U.S. Cattle Industry's Role in Food Security; (3) Reform the Cattle Industry's Legal and Regulatory Framework to Protect the Marketplace; (4) Increase Competition and Market Transparency; (5) Preserve and Protect the Liberties and Freedoms of U.S. Cattle Producers; and (6) Shift Away from Global Standardization to Rely on Free-Market Principles.

A lynchpin of the overall plan will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with R-CALF, which continues to call for a requirement that all beef harvested in a foreign country retain its foreign country-of-origin label through the retail sales point.

Bullard explains why this is so key to their efforts: "The competitive forces in the marketplace cannot work unless consumers can exercise choice as to what country they want their beef produced in. Without country-of-origin labeling you can't create and increase demand for cattle that are exclusively born and raised in the U.S. With that trigger we as U.S. cattle producers can begin to create demand. It is fundamental. Competition can't work without that."

Another area at the top of R-CALF's list moving into 2021 is to "immediately pass S.3693, the spot market protection bill, and its House companion, H.R. 7501, to create an enforceable law requiring packers to purchase at least 50% of their cattle from the ultra-thin cash market."

"We have to restore competition for cattle by supporting legislation that requires packers to purchase at least 50% of their cattle from our most important price discovery market, the fed cattle market," Bullard adds.

Other goals the R-CALF plan focuses on include:

*to promote and encourage more local and regional beef packing capacity, increasing opportunities for retained ownership and direct sales to consumers;

*to prohibit the USDA from mandating premises registration, RFID tags or certifications associated with production practices as condition to access markets or engage in interstate commerce;

*to reverse government restrictions and limits on grazing and water rights on federally managed lands and restore allotment owners' surface rights; and

*to ban all imports from countries not declared free of foot-and-mouth disease, including those declared free only because of a FMD vaccination program.

For a full list of the group's objectives and to see its five-year plan in detail, go to their website at https://www.r-calfusa.com/…

Victoria Myers