Heather Hetterick spoke with Ohio Cattleman’s Association President Sam Sutherly who one of almost 100 Ohio cattle producers in Nashville for the National Cattleman’s Convention.
A recording-breaking crowd of nearly 7,000 cattlemen and women from across the country jockeyed for a seat at the second general session of the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn. NCBA President-Elect J.D. Alexander painted a picture of regulatory chaos in Washington, D.C., but pointed to grassroots advocacy as the primary reason the cattle industry was able to “weather the storm.”
“Because of the partnership between our state affiliates and your national organization, we managed to prevent ourselves from being the main course at the big government café,” said Alexander, who is also a cattleman from Nebraska. “This partnership – this grassroots policy process – is the shining star of this industry. You have a voice and it is being heard loud and clear.”
Alexander used the slew of regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency; the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration’s proposed rule on livestock marketing; and the Department of Transportation’s proposed rule, which would have required cattlemen to acquire commercial driver’s licenses, as examples of cattlemen’s successful pushback of burdensome regulations. Alexander said NCBA will continue pushing for practical legislation and a commonsense approach to regulations. He called the estate tax his top policy priority as the 2012 NCBA president.
“I pledge to you that my top priority as your president is to do all I can to build beef demand and producer profitability. This can only be accomplished if we are allowed to operate without government intervention and, most importantly, if decisions are made to ensure future generations are able to take over our family businesses,” Alexander said. “The death tax is the biggest deterrent to young people returning to the cattle business. What we need now are jobs, a stable economy and food for a growing global population. Leaving the next generation to choose between a life they love or the inability to pay the estate tax is not something we will tolerate.”
NCBA attendees also learned that cattle supplies remain tight and global demand will continue profitability for cattle ranchers in the year ahead.
“The economic signals are in place for restocking to begin this year,” said CattleFax Chief Executive Officer Randy Blach. “All we need now is a little encouragement from Mother Nature.”
Despite shifting drought conditions in Texas and other parts of the country, Blach told the audience he expects cattle inventory numbers will decline slightly in 2012 and reach a low point in 2013, before increasing in 2014 and beyond. Although herd growth may remain elusive, an increase in average carcass weights will partially offset the decline in inventory numbers, he said. The decline in cattle numbers means prices can be expected to move higher in 2012. Tight supplies of cattle and beef will be compounded by continued growth in the export markets, with expanded access into Japan and continued increases in the volume and value of beef being sold into export channels, according to Blach.
“We anticipate additional good news from Japan, perhaps during the first half of the year,” said Blach of the effort to expand trade to include beef derived from cattle up to 30 months of age.
He said Japan won’t be the only export market to see significant growth during 2012. In fact, U.S. beef exports, which set records in 2011, will likely set new highs in 2012 as a result of strong overall global demand and continued weakness in the U.S. dollar.