Market volatility, beef trade and government regulations were top of mind when staff from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) stopped in Missouri for a regional meeting with producers yesterday. Up to 100 producers gathered to hear NCBA’s Colin Woodall, Craig Uden and Jennifer Houston talk about current state the industry.

There is an incredible amount of volatility in the market right now, said Uden, NCBA president, pointing to the past week, where a strong run-ups in feeder prices hit a Friday setback only to set up a Monday high. More than a year and a half ago, NCBA and industry leaders began evaluating ways to create more stability.

“The market doesn’t act the way it used to act,” Uden said. “Specifically we’re addressing the volatility, contract prices and delivery points, and we’re working on negotiating trade. At this point in time, the market has taken away a lot of the negotiating power and captive supply is part of the issue.”

International beef trade is one area cattlemen are walking fine lines. Last month, cattlemen were excited that a meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping might restart beef exports to the country. Still, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue needs to fill out his staff before terms are put to paper.

Remember, “97% of the world’s population lives outside the U.S. borders,” Uden said. Canada and Mexico account for 30% of U.S. exports.

Any unintended consequences with NAFTA could “put us in a bit of a bind,” he added.

Keeping beef on the plate is one focus of the association, says Houston, NCBA vice president. At the beginning of the year, NCBA partnered with popular online coupon app Ibotta. More than 4 million users watched a short video on nutrition to gain access to a fresh beef coupon, which moved 650,000 units of beef.

In Washington D.C, beef leaders have been at the White House more in the past 110 days than in the past 8 years, said Woodall, vice president of government affairs.

Regulatory rollbacks continue to be a main focus for NCBA policy staff. While the “Waters of the United States” case has been pushed out, the question of federal jurisdiction will still have to be answered at some point.

Other priorities for the association are comprehensive tax reform and asking for resources in the next farm bill to help protect the U.S. from a foreign animal disease outbreak. Woodall said NCBA would be asking for $150 million for five years to restock vaccines to protect against Foot and Mouth disease.

 

In 2017 Missouri ranks third in the number of beef cows, as of Jan. 1, and eighth in the U.S. for overall number of cattle and calves.