The cattle and beef industry contribute tens of billions of dollars to Nebraska’s economy each year. The industry also comprises one of the most complex and amazing set of markets in the world. A calf is born in the Nebraska sandhills, and 2-3 years later a steak ends up on a plate in South Korea.
The importance of the industry to Nebraska, combined with trends and recent shocks in the cattle markets, led the Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) Board of Directors to form a Cattle Markets Task Force late last year. Members of the Task Force represented a broad spectrum of perspectives: cow/calf, stocker, feeder, auction market, and marketing. It was charged with examining current Farm Bureau policy, providing policy recommendations for members to consider, and providing input on NEFB’s role in addressing concerns regarding cattle markets.
The Cattle Markets Task Force met several times over the course of five months and heard from a variety of persons connected with the industry from feedlot managers, cattle organizations, auction barn owners, restaurant owners, agricultural economists, and consultants to gain insights into the entirety of the industry. The Task Force selected six topics to explore and ultimately suggest recommendations. These topics include the trend towards fewer cash sales in fed cattle markets, risk management programs, mandatory country of origin labeling, and packer market power, among others.
The Task Force report can be found at https://www.nefb.org/images/FEDeration/Ag_Issues/CattleMarketsTaskForce/2020-Report.pdf. The report includes background on the cattle sector in Nebraska and Nebraska’s role in the U.S. industry, market dynamics, relevant issues, and recommendations. The recommendations include policy ideas and actions Nebraska Farm Bureau can take in support of the industry. Given the complexity of the industry the report doesn’t contain all the answers, but it does offer insights and suggestions for Farm Bureau members and others connected with the industry to consider.