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Ranchers Raise Over 33K to Fix Broken U.S. Cattle Markets
Nebraska Ag Connection - 06/17/2019

Fort Pierre Livestock Auction recently kicked off the summer with a successful fund-raiser that generated more than $22,100 for R-CALF USA. Fort Pierre Livestock Auction has been a leader for many years in generating memberships and contributions for the national organization. The monies and memberships generated from calf sales are used to help R-CALF USA succeed in its mission to improve domestic cattle prices and to maintain a healthy, viable cattle industry in the United States.

"Last Friday's calf sale was a big success, thanks to Dean and Delia Johnson who donated yet another yearling steer for the event," said Bryan Hanson, co-owner of Ft. Pierre Livestock Auction and former R-CALF USA president.

Hanson added: "Producers' bottom line is the price of their cattle, and the producers who contributed at the calf sale are aware that R-CALF is the only national organization that's working for just them on issues that directly affect their bottom line.

"As far as businesses that contributed at the calf sale, from the banks to the vet clinic to the ag supply, they did it because their business doesn't survive without customers, and they realize the organization is there to try to make it profitable for all U.S. cattle ranchers."

Hanson said local auction markets are a true price discovery for producers as feeder cattle still sell on an open and competitive market at a livestock auction. He said auction markets provide the facility to take care of the cattle and sort them the way they need to be sorted and like almost any local business, they are pretty large contributors back to their communities.

"Our cattle producers are what makes our business a business, so we do our best to fight for our cattle producers because, if not, pretty soon everything will be corporate-controlled just like it is in the chicken and hog industries - where there are no sale barns because there is no need for any. It'd be pretty tough if you were trying to run a sale barn selling hogs right now.

"Our customers need money in their pockets to pay their bills and keep their livelihood before it's too late," Hanson concluded.

"We need country-of-origin labels on the beef we produce. Everything else in this country gets to put a label on their product and I don't understand why we cattle producers can't," said Delia Johnson, who along with her husband are cow/calf producers and longtime R-CALF USA members.

The Johnsons raise cattle in western South Dakota. They started in the cattle business together in 1981. "It's been Dean and I for a lot of years and we were able to bring our son and his fiance into the business, this was our son's first R-CALF USA calf sale," said Delia Johnson.

"We are excited about getting the next generation involved and that's why we've got to fight to get this market back. These kids can't feed their kids if we can't come up with a better way to market our cattle and get some money out of them again and country-of-origin labeling if it was enforced, would make all the difference in the world.

"R-CALF USA is the only ally fighting for us. This is our last-ditch, we have to get our cattle markets turned around or we're not going to be able to hand our business over to the next generation, and so donating a calf for R-CALF USA is something we feel we need to do to help," she concluded.

Since elected to R-CALF USA's Board of directors last February, Brett Kenzy has organized two fund-raisers and two informational meetings in his region. Calf sales in South Dakota at Platte Livestock Market and Winner Livestock Auction generated upwards of $5,000 each in contributions and memberships to support the organization's work.

Kenzy and his family operate a backgrounding feedlot and maintain a commercial cow herd in south central South Dakota. "We get a lot of beef news but not a lot of factual data concerning purely cattle production and what has happened to our markets. R-CALF USA's research and factual data answers a lot of the questions producers have about what's really happening to them," he said.

"We are the organization that works solely on producers' behalf, their profitability is our total reason to have an organization called R-CALF, "Basically, we are just producers that care enough to do something about it. We pool our resources whether its financial and/or intellectual resources to try to change the things that need changed in our cattle industry.

"If we don't try, everything just stays the same. R-CALF USA provides a framework for a way forward. It's not just about today, or yesterday, it's about tomorrow.

"I feel it's my responsibility as an individual as well as everybody else's to be involved if they want to have a future in this business, it's on each of us as individuals to band together and push the policies that we believe in," Kenzy concluded.

Longtime R-CALF USA members, Ray Goebel & Sons will be donating proceeds of their fat butcher steer calf to the organization on June 22 during the weigh-up sale at Ft. Pierre Livestock.

Vaughn Meyer, his wife Lois, and their son and two daughters are a family-run ranching operation in northwestern South Dakota.

The Meyer's recently donated $1,000 to jump-start R-CALF USA's first-ever, nationwide online calf sale. Without even driving to town, anyone who wishes to support U.S. cattle producers can participate by 'bidding' a donation to R-CALF USA.

"R-CALF USA is the only organization that is truly run by farmers and ranchers and is there to voice our concerns," Vaughn Meyer said. "The markets are a total disaster and I believe the broken markets are robbing all the profits from cattle farmers and ranchers and are running them out of business."

Meyer continued, "It's time we got the country-of-origin labeling law back for beef so that farmers and ranchers can return to the profitable levels they had from 2013 - 2015, which was the only period in the last 50 years that farmers and ranchers were truly receiving a competitive price for their product."

"I would encourage all farmers and ranchers to get on board to try and preserve their livelihood for future generations and join with R-CALF USA," Meyer concluded. "Become involved and try to return profitability to your livestock business again."

Anyone who would like to donate to Meyer's online calf sale can send their donation to R-CALF USA Online Calf Sale, P.O. Box 30715, Billings, MT, 59107, or call 406-252-2516. Donations over $50 will receive a 1-year membership for first-time members and donations over $100 will receive a 1-year membership renewal to an existing membership. Donate online at www.OnlineCalfsale.com.

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