Endangered bacon – what’s next?

Reality can bite for voters ruled by emotion rather than informed decision-making. But this time it might take something to bite.

California restaurateurs are increasingly concerned that a meat-based staple of many dishes, especially at breakfast-centric restaurants, will be removed from their menus in January. From there, much of American pork production will be banned for sale in the state. In Iowa, for example, a major supplier of pork to California, it is estimated that only four percent of the state’s pork production operations will be able to ship to California.

In 2018, voters passed a measure requiring more space where pigs, laying hens and calves were raised. Hog producers have been reluctant to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to renovate barns and production systems to comply with a law they didn’t think was in place. The Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution prohibits a state from restricting trade between other states.

Many expected that such a blatant move by California to set its own restrictive production standards and impose them on producers in other states would be rejected. But a lawsuit filed by the North American Meat Institute and joined by attorneys general of several states lost in California District Court, lost in the very liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court has refused to hear the case.

Californians will vote to remove a governor, soon indicating if they regret having learned more when they voted for a governor far to the left. Now, unless their state government decides to suspend animal management dictates – if it can – voters can find out what not fully thinking about voting measures can mean at the same time. for the wallet and stomach.

Of course, the Humane Society of the United States, a very political activist group that drafted and pushed the measure, is on the verge of getting what it wants: to make consuming animal products harder and more expensive.

Thus, there may soon be an outlet for bootleggers specializing in “porclegging”, that is, hams – and bacon too.

More than 300 beef producers attending the NCBA Live Marketing Committee meeting at the new Nashville convention expected fireworks, as is common in times of turbulence. Patience, however, seemed to be the unspoken attitude. The start of the new USDA cost base and volume reports for all alternative marketing agreements; an upward trend in cattle prices, with CattleFax forecasting better prices through the end of the year; the best beef demand in three decades, better second-quarter negotiated cash figures under the NCBA negotiated cash framework, the start of packer involvement, and better weather conditions for much of the country had clearly persuaded the producers to stay tight.

Cattle ranchers have received good news from a court that is not always favorable to agriculture. The Ninth Circuit dismissed R-CALF’s appeal against the district court’s decision against them in their attempt to stop the levies. R-CALF had sued the Montana Beef Council and USDA as oversight agencies in 2016, later adding a dozen other qualified state beef boards. They had argued that the levy was unconstitutional and illegal.

The lawsuit suspended the levy during that time and severely hampered the operations of the Montana Beef Council. The lawsuit raised several legal questions, but was viewed by many traditional cattle producers as yet another attack by R-CALF on the NCBA’s free market approach to beef industry policy. .

There are two distinct divisions in the NCBA: the political part, funded by dues and sponsorships, and the other contracting with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board of Checkoff to manage many beef promotion, research and communication projects. . R-CALF does not recognize the segregation of duties and funding and does not like the NCBA’s approach on the political side of working with all sectors of the beef chain. As usual, R-CALF’s modus operandi is to continue. But apparently this attempt to cripple or kill the levy by attacking the beef councils that collect the money and run state programs while helping to represent and fund the national program, has come to a standstill.

Randy Blach of CattleFax told the 100th annual meeting of the National Livestock Producers that packers are winning over the backlog from the pandemic and food prices are at their lowest for the year. Drought will be critical for some areas, especially the far west and the northern plains, but the number of cattle there is not high enough to affect the total number drastically. The backlog should be dealt with by the end of the year. The issue is not so much capacity as it is maintaining a full treatment team. None of the Big Four is operating at its rated capacity.

Most encouraging: the demand for beef is the best in 33 years. Both domestic demand and export demand are strong.

CattleFax expects feed prices to gradually increase in the fall and winter, corn to stay in the $ 5.35 to $ 5.75 range, and packaging capacity and the number of cattle will be more balanced in 2022. By 2023, the leverage effect is expected to shift to cattle feeders.


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