– John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator (This article appeared previously in the 2017 Expo issue of the Ohio Cattleman)
We are in the early days of the Presidency of Donald Trump. Regardless of which side of the political fence you stand, I’m sure you will be closely watching the activity out of Washington D.C. Based on the first few days of the Trump administration, the status quo will not be standard business as usual out of the nation’s capital.
I’m not sure that President Trump and his administration are going to have the luxury of a “honeymoon” period associated with the next four years. It is obvious that the country is deeply divided on many “hot button” subjects such as trade, health care, immigration, and the size of government to name a few. Both supporters and detractors have taken strong stances on nearly every issue and solutions to problems are being hotly debated. Mainstream and social media are full of examples of the contentious discussions taking place in society today. It will be very interesting to see if he will be able to live up to his campaign promise of “Making America Great Again.”
I am optimistic enough to think that America is a great country but it is not perfect and could use a little repair work now and then. I have a similar opinion of the beef industry today as well. While we all have various reasons to be involved to be in the beef industry, most of us have a passion for what we do and relish our role in helping feed our country and the world. We are proud to be involved in the beef industry but should be honest enough to recognize that there’s always room for improvement.
I get the sense that public has become greatly frustrated with the entire political process. This probably explains the results of the November 2016 election. Now more than ever, it is important that you become engaged with our elected official about issues that are important to your family and way of life. This is particularly true when it comes to beef industry issues such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Country of Origin Labeling, the GIPSA rule, the Waters of the United States rule, and the “death tax” to name a few. It does little to complain about a political action if you are not willing to speak up and voice constructive concerns during the lawmaking process.
While an individual can have a small impact on government issues, they certainly can have a large impact on their own beef enterprise. The beef industry, like nearly all aspects of production agriculture, has experienced a great deal of price volatility throughout this decade. While current price levels for all classes of beef cattle have declined significantly from the recent historic highs, there is still ample opportunity for producers to stay viable in this industry.
Now more than ever, producers must treat their beef enterprise as a business and implement management strategies to keep them profitable for the foreseeable future. Regardless if you are involved in cow-calf, stocker, or feedlot enterprises, you must consider all proven and potential practices and technologies to remain competitive in this business. Look around and you can see how rapidly things are changing. Input costs and market prices are more volatile than ever, the consumer increasingly wants to know how their food is produced and expect more choices and quality options, and we continually evolve into more of a global economy where the impacts of imports and exports resonate on the farm.
Now more than ever, it is important to become a member of your local, state, and national cattle organizations. We cannot expect people outside of our industry to promote our product and fight for the issues that are near and dear to us. It is our duty to the beef industry to understand the issues that threaten our livelihood and speak out individually and through the strength in numbers that a cattlemen’s organization can provide.
Speaking about becoming involved, don’t forget about the upcoming 2017 Ohio Beef Expo. It will be held on March 17-19 and is certainly one of the most popular events for Ohio cattlemen to attend. This event attracts over 30,000 participants from 25 states and Canada each year. The Expo includes breed sales, shows and displays, educational events, a highly competitive junior show and a large trade show with many exhibitors. The Ohio Beef Expo will be held at the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus. For more details about the Ohio Beef Expo, go to: http://www.ohiobeefexpo.com .