toppin’ outBY TIM O’BYRNE
God Blessed Our
American Beef Producers
We know it, and we’re mighty thankful!
s editor of this illustrious
title for the past 15 years
I truly feel Blessed to be
a part of the ranching
community. Your input into this
special issue refl ects that - many
people in today’s world have few
resources, but we have plenty.
After watching what has been going on recently in the news about our cattle market, I have
decided to speak up. I am a fourth-generation cattle rancher working 8,000 acres in Oklahoma.
I earned a Bachelor of Animal Science Degree at Oklahoma State University. My family before
me has seen many of the downturns in land and cattle. Each generation has seen at least one
major market disaster in their lifetime. Now it is my turn. I cannot sit idly by and let my industry
be taken advantage of. So, it is time to speak out, especially to the cow-calf industry.
People have started to complain about the packing industry taking too much profi t for
themselves. Some people want government regulations or other programs to make the packer
share in his profi t. I will admit by the looks of it, that the packer is making themselves a hefty
profi t. But I do not have access to their company fi nancials, so I can only speculate. I do not
know what their exact overhead costs are or any other expenses that arise in their company.
We say we want the government out of every aspect of our life until the packer industry
takes too much money, now we need the government to come and rescue us. The answer is not
more government regulations. It is up to us as individuals to set the standard and take charge.
Here is my solution to our problem. The cow-calf industry needs to immediately stop selling
calves at below profi t level. When a producer takes cattle to any kind of auction, the auction
works for the producer. Why do we take whatever the buyers will give us? Set a price to make
a profi t going in and stick with it. If the calves don’t sell for your price then take them back
home. Even tell the auction company, before the calves sell, that this is what I want and if
I don’t get that I am taking them home. If every cowman did this what would happen? The
auctions would not be selling any cattle until a profi t was made. Think about the chain.
If calves don’t get sold; then stocker cattle won’t be available for grazing. If that happens
then cattle won’t go to the feedlot. If cattle aren’t in the feedlot then cattle won’t go to the
packers, and ultimately beef won’t be on the shelf. So, who really has the control over the
market? We do, the cow-calf industry. Without us you cannot start the chain in motion for any
of the other sectors in the industry to work.
One thing I know that will come up is, “Well the banker said I had to sell, so I can pay my
loan” or, “I have to sell so I can pay those bills this month”. I understand exactly where you are
coming from. But don’t you think that it is better to hold off selling temporarily to get a good
price than to sell immediately and get a discount? The reason why this concept is so hard is
that ever yone has a different profi t margin. The cow-calf sector should be the ones to set a
minimum price for our cattle. We should not take anything lower and work together as cattlemen
and urge our state and national cattle organizations to stand with us. We in the cattle
industry are fi ghters and have weathered many storms. We will weather this one, but let’s do
it ourselves without help from government overreach or regulations that cripple our industry.
This may not be the right solution for you or it may be. Let’s get the conversation started and
think of logical approaches to a solution. #cattlemenstandtogether
EDITOR: Kyle, WR thanks you on behalf
of everyone that appreciates the value of
intelligent discussion with the hopes of
improving the American Dream, rancher-style.
Our amazing and inspiring attitude
stems from being surrounded by the
cycle of life, the slow unfolding of nature’s
miracles, and a community that
refl ects often on where those blessings
came from. I pray we never lose
that deep connection. Anything less
wouldn’t be right. We were taught
well by those who mentored us in
the early part of our journey, and we
continued to evolve into the positive
contributors we are today. That’s
what WR has come to represent to so
many of us; grounding, sharing, compassionate
slow methodical evolution to be the
best we can be.
Now for some random ramblings:
• A virus can take on many forms.
• “Cowboy Up!” To a former
big-outfi t cowboy like myself this
is not some trendy T-shirt graphic
you’d see in the crowd at Stagecoach
- it’s something that the seniorlevel
hands would have barked at
you with great gusto during a bonafi
de cow wreck because you were
obviously NOT cowboying up and
needed some encouragement to
embrace the concept with more...
14 I WORKING RANCH I JUNE / JULY 2020