Thoughts from the Editor


Do we strike while the iron is hot?  Or will that yield a solution equivalent to throwing tarp over the roof in the midst of the rainstorm?

This million-dollar question seems to be a dividing factor in our industry, especially when it comes to the 50-14 bill.

I’ve been engrossed in conversation about a minimum cash trade mandate for the past week and a half now, since the introduction of the bill last Tuesday.  Several weeks before that, the conversation started when the push for 30-14 took off and became industry buzz.

Through several interviews and many side conversations, I think there are two valid arguments for and against a mandated cash trade minimum.  The question is, which one is right?

Do we want the government involved?  Are they not already involved?

Will we sacrifice premiums for higher quality cattle?  Will a competitive cash market not sort good cattle to the top of the market each week?

Moving forward, all these questions need to be carefully analyzed and considered.  The question of when to move forward, however, seems clearer to me.

Most of you have probably branded calves before so the idiom of striking while the iron is hot may take on a bit different meaning but still makes perfect sense.  If you try to stamp your brand on the hip of a calf with a cool iron, the result isn’t pretty.  It won’t last.  If you want a good brand, you’ll have to go back to the fire and reheat the iron, ask your ground crew to wait, and come back with more heat – a method that isn’t as efficient when there’s hundreds of calves to get through that day.

On the other hand, repairing your roof in the midst of the storm may not yield the most solid, eye-appealing fix.  However, it could slow the damage that is occurring inside while the storm rages outside.  Sure, you will need to crawl up there when the sun comes out, assess the damage more carefully and set to work building a new roof all together, but at least the house didn’t flood in the middle of the storm.

A nasty hailstorm hit my house last summer and wrecked the roof, busted out several windows, ruined the siding, and even damaged some floors when the rain poured through the busted windows.  The next morning, I was on the phone with our insurance agent who was extremely willing to work with me in the moment.  After a flaky contractor left me in the middle of a project, I had to start the process over again several months after the storm had passed.  With the new contractor, a new bid, and the need for a bit more insurance money, I had to reach out to my claims agent one more time.  But the second time, months after the storm had passed, the process was a complete drag.  I had to jump through multiple hoops, visit with several phone operators who were tough to understand and had no idea what I was talking about, and send a few emails before finally reopening the claim.

Long story short, when the storm was on the brain of myself, my agent, and my contractor, the work happened quickly and smoothly.

We need to keep this in mind when addressing the issues we are facing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our industry, like myself living in a wrecked house, is anxious to get something accomplished.  Our lawmakers, like my insurance agent, are there to lend a helping hand as they witness us suffering severe damages firsthand.  And our consumers, like my contractor, are ready to reap the benefits of repairing a broken system.

Now is the time to take action.  Our industry makes up a minority in this country, a very essential minority, but a minority still the same.  Our voice isn’t huge on any given day, but during this pandemic it is the one that the entire nation is seeking to hear.  When you add consumers to mix, our asks could be unstoppable.

We just need to get on the same page.  As an industry, we need to decide to grab the bull by the horns and take action today.

The caliber of this storm isn’t something we could have predicted.  But when the clouds were brewing and we made a circle around the house, we identified some weak spots.  The crisis our marketplace is facing isn’t the direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic, but rather years of inaction leading to a fragile supply chain.  While the repairs may not have been made in time to lessen the damage, the plans were in the works.  The solutions shouldn’t be haphazard as they were created in the eye of the storm because in that initial lap when the breeze picked up, we began preparing a list of needed repairs just before we were blindsided with a thunderboomer.  The severity of the storm only made it clear how essential those fixes are to the survival of the industry.

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