Guebert is out of touch

Editor:

Alan Guebert proves over and over he is completely out of touch with the real issues facing today’s cattle producers. His Dec. 3 piece (“While I can’t do math, I can read”) about agriculture competition is off-base and misinformed.

As a cattle rancher and officer of the nation’s oldest and largest national cattlemen’s association, I talk to producers from across the country on a daily basis, and I understand the issues that matter most to our industry.

Guebert is out of the loop, and his misguided rantings are an irritation to most farm families. He criticizes the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association‘s involvement in helping kill an amendment to the fiscal year 2010 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill that claimed it would have required the Department of Justice to expand oversight efforts of competition within the agriculture industry.

Specifically, he called NCBA’s position “neither smart nor economical.” He even goes so far as to ask why anyone would be a part of an organization that would fight against “any boost in competition oversight?”

I can tell you why. It’s exactly the reason why cattlemen do belong to a national organization like NCBA — an organization that’s looking out for their interests in Washington, to make sure that Congress and the administration don’t enact over-burdensome or unnecessary regulations that could have unintended consequences on industry, or in this case, no consequences at all.

Contrary to what Guebert implies, NCBA fully supports the existing authorities of both DOJ and USDA-GIPSA to investigate and enforce anti-competition in our marketplace.

The amendment in question did nothing to enhance or “boost” competition in the cattle market. It was a redundant amendment that merely restated the authority that DOJ already has.

With so many other important issues going on, Congress should not be wasting time or taxpayer dollars on unnecessary, politically-motivated actions.

I would encourage Guebert to get his facts straight in the future before writing about something of which he obviously lacks an understanding. Instead of spending time on an issue that has already been studied to death (i.e. competition in the marketplace), he should focus on true threats to livestock production — like EPA proposals on dust and greenhouse gas reporting requirements, which could put agriculture as we know it out of business.

Our industry is facing unprecedented challenges, both economic and political. It’s no longer an option to sit back and hope the government “stays out of our way.” Our future viability depends on how we move forward to address our mutual challenges.

We can sit back and complain, like Guebert does, or we can join together to find constructive solutions to proactively face these challenges head on. I choose the latter option — which is why I belong to a strong national organization that fights on our behalf each and every day in Washington.

Guebert’s most recent column is, “I could’ve been a contender.” A meat packer executive instead of a “journalist” — woe is him, he is neither.

Gary Voogt
(The author, a Michigan cattleman, is president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.)

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