<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Billings, Mont.R-CALF USA recently met with members of the Senate Finance Committee Trade Team of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to discuss trade issues important to the U.S. cattle industry, as the trade team traveled throughout Montana to discuss trade issues of importance to Montana industries. R-CALFUSA presented the team with its "Overview of International Trade and the U.S. Cattle and Beef Industries." <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard urged the trade team to first distinguish the needs of the U.S. cattle industry from the needs of the U.S. beef industry.
"In addition to about $36 billion generated each year from live cattle sales to the beef packing industry, the cattle industry generates an additional $14 billion annually from sales of live cattle to other live cattle segments, and states like Montana which have few beef packers but still generate over $1 billion from live cattle sales are dependent on the wellbeing of the live cattle industry explicitly," Bullard pointed out. "This is why it is fundamentally wrong to view the U.S. beef industry as representative of the interests of the U.S. cattle industry."
Bullard provided charts to the trade team to show that the live cattle market has been broken for the past two decades because of a distinct disconnect between live cattle prices and beef prices. He said the result of this disconnect is threefold: 1) a continued and substantial exodus of cattle producers from the industry; 2) a domestic cattle herd that is rapidly shrinking in size; and, 3) a 13-year stagnation in the production of USA beef derived exclusively from cattle born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.