Cattlemen express discontent to congressman over GIPSA proposal

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SUMMITVILLE, Ohio — A small group of cattlemen recently gathered around a table on a farm in southern Columbiana County to share their version of the state of the cattle industry and the rules proposed by the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration with U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson.

Henry Bergfeld, Three Oaks Farm in Summitville, Dr. Keith Burgett, Burgett Angus Farm in Carrollton, John Stika, president of Certified Angus Beef, and Dave Johnson, Summitville Tile, were on hand to talk with the congressman Oct. 18.

The cattlemen stressed to Johnson how important it is to get the best price for their cattle when sold, and that the proposed GIPSA rule may impact the industry in a negative way.

Quality premium targeted

If the proposed rule is enacted as it’s currently written, according to the producers, quality may no longer guide farmgate cattle prices. If the proposal goes through, they told the congressman, basically if two steer with the same weight are sold, then the same price is given to both, no matter if one is of better quality than the other.

That’s because it would mean a lot of paperwork for packers to explain why they are paying a premium for the better quality cow in the auction. The cattlemen fear the paperwork nightmare would stop packers from legitimately paying extra for any higher quality cattle.

“We’re the bottom line person in this. The GIPSA rule levels the field,” said Stika.

CAB producers hit

Currently, quality cattle or breed specific cattle such as Angus can gain a premium price at the auction barn.

Over 30 years ago, the Angus breed created Certified Angus Beef, which is carried in some grocery stores, restaurants and other retail outlets. Cattle meeting certain standards gain a premium price for Angus producers.

The rule would destroy the farmer’s ability to get a premium for Angus beef, the farmers claimed, and would eventually damage the seedstock business in the cattle industry because there would no longer be reason to produce quality cattle.

“If they change the GIPSA rule, we wouldn’t be able to sell our bulls for a premium,” said Burgett.

Burgett explained the cattle producers would not be willing to pay extra for a top grade bull because they wouldn’t realize a premium on their investment when selling cattle at the market.

Burgett said the proposed GIPSA rule is vaguely written and that is another concern for all producers.

“So interpretation can be of its own meaning. It can change,” said Burgett.

Too many regulations

After hearing from the producers, Johnson said he understood why they are upset with the rule and agreed to talk to the agriculture committee and others in Washington. The situation is common in many facets of business, he added, and said he feels the regulations are an effort to force a type of socialism in America.

(Reporter Kristy Foster welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419 or by e-mail at kfoster@farmanddairy.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96.)

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