I do not understand how so many intelligent people in the beef industry can continue to overlook the obvious. Perhaps, instead of overlooking the obvious, they are ignoring the obvious. Perhaps they are ignoring the obvious because the obvious is not a popular position within the status quo herd. Members of the status quo herd are always looking for an easy way out!

I just read an article in a weekly beef publication that totally befuddled me – and then it made me mad. It appears that the author of this article was interviewing Mark Barnett, who is the current president of the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA). The reason for the interview appears to be the concern over lifelong cow-calf producers getting out of the cow-calf business because there is no profitability.

Barnett is quoted as saying, “We have dispersal sales and there is no one to take over these cattle.” He makes it sound as though all of the cows being sold are sent to slaughter. I don’t think that is the case because there are still a few who know how to get rich in the cow-calf business. Barnett continues to say, “We are writing more and more ‘last checks’ to cow-calf producers.” The concern at LMA is whether they will have customers and a business in the future.

Let’s pause for a moment, and review what is currently going on within the cow-calf business. Calf prices are higher today than they have ever been since God created the world! If cow-calf producers can’t make a boatload of money with record-high calf prices, there must be a problem. The problem is that the cost of inputs is also at record-high levels. Status quo cow-calf producers are selling their calves for extremely high prices – but their cost of production is eating up their profits.

These producers will be totally underwater when calf prices are cut in half! When herd expansion takes off, calf prices will fall like a rock – but the cost of inputs will remain at record-high levels!

LMA’s proposed solution to this problem is to have meetings to, “…hopefully come up with some ideas.” STOP overlooking the obvious! There was some mention that cattlemen need to be more like row-crop farmers – and receive more givernment payments and have access to more givernment-subsidized insurance programs. That’s where I totally lost it!

There is nothing so bad the government cannot make it worse with their so-called “help.” More government handouts is NOT the solution to anything!

Let’s talk about the obvious solution… Status quo cow-calf producers MUST reduce their dependence on expensive outside inputs if they want to survive! This will reduce their cost of production – and increase their profits. Many PCC customers have a cost of production that is half what the national average is. They will continue to be profitable when calf prices are cut in half.

Status quo cow-calf producers MUST also stop focusing on increasing pounds per cow (bragging rights) – and start focusing on increasing pounds per acre (profit)! Many PCC customers have more than doubled their production per acre! Compared to all of their neighbors, they are producing much more for much less! They will continue to be very profitable when calf prices are cut in half.

I am not picking on Mark Barnett or the LMA. I am, however, using this as an opportunity to poke holes in the status quo way of thinking – or lack thereof. I see articles similar to this on a weekly basis. All of the beef industry’s so-called “experts” know what the problem is – but very few (if any) are willing to discuss the one and only solution to the problem.

Most status quo producers want to improve their profitability – but they don’t want to make any changes in their operation. That has never worked in the past – and it won’t work in the future! These producers will eventually be replaced by those who are not afraid to change with the times. I say, “Bring it on!” I no longer have much sympathy for people who are afraid to break away from the status quo herd and think for themselves.

Opportunities to advance will always come through deliberate change – and usually at the expense of those who are afraid to change.

Quote Worth Re-Quoting

In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.

Abraham Maslow
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