LMD April 2021

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Riding Herd “The greatest homage we can pay to truth is to use it.” – JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

April 15, 2021 • www.aaalivestock.com

Volume 63 • No. 4

The Golden Shovel BY LEE PITTS


ometimes I don’t understand cattlemen. We howl and holler about corruption in Washington D.C. but say nothing about the incestuous relationship that exists between the NCBA and the checkoff. We criticize the good old boy lobbying that goes on in our nation’s Capitol but how about the influence the drug companies buy that continues to allow the use of beta agonists and hormones? We complain that there is no transparency in the Biden administration’s disastrous border policies but if you want to know anything about the financial dealings about the NCBA you have to file Freedom of Information Requests that will then be totally ignored. All President Biden gets from a complicit media are softball questions and he even whiffs at those. But when have you seen writers or reporters at the slick free beef magazines ask any tough questions about the checkoff or the NCBA? Let’s face it, the beef checkoff is just one more highly secretive and corrupt government operation and perhaps cowboys who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Digging Our Own Grave


The 2020 budget of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board projected they’d spend $40,900,000 and the NCBA would get $27,383,347 of it. That’s 67 percent by our calculations. And it’s even worse because several state beef councils gave extra money to the NCBA. Than the NCBA turns around and supports the Big Four packer’s agenda and lobbies against mandatory country of origin labeling and Packers & Stockyards Act

producers in the U.S. R CALF has until July 1, 2021 to gather the necessary signatures and is now in the final stage of gathering the required signatures. If all this sounds familiar it’s because we’ve been here before. In November, 1999, the Livestock Marketing Association delivered to the USDA nearly 146,000 signatures of producers who wanted a vote on the checkoff. Then Ag Secretary Glickman delayed for more than a year in starting the verification of the petitions and years, per capita beef consump- eventually ended up using a sigtion fell from 79.2 pounds per nature validation process virtuperson in 1985 to 54.1 pounds ally identical to the one used in per person in 2014. At the same the failed validation of the pork time poultry consumption grew checkoff referendum the previby 35 pounds per person, a 55 ous year. In delivering the 127,927 percent increase. And, oh, by the way, the signatures the LMA felt they poultry pluckers don’t have a had a good cushion but a referendum was never held because checkoff. an accounting firm ESTIMATFamiliar Territory ED that only 83,464 were valR CALF USA sprang up be- id. Sounds just as fishy as the cause of NCBA’s heist of the Presidential election we just checkoff and since its inception had, doesn’t it? Even the govhas been fighting for ranchers ernment’s own watchdog, the without any checkoff dollars. General Accounting Office They make their money the criticized USDA’s validation old fashioned way, they work process. When a report was given to for it through dues and rollover calf auctions. On July 2 of last Glickman that came up with year R CALF began a petition 21 ways to improve all the drive requesting a nationwide checkoffs he agreed with all referendum on the termination 21 recomendations, including of the beef checkoff. The law holding mandatory producer says the Secretary of Ag has the referendums on all commodity authority to conduct a referen- checkoff programs, “at least evdum if requested by at least 10 ery five years.” Yet not a single percent of the number of cattle continued on page two

If you expect to follow the trail, you must do your sleepin’ in the winter. rules that would stop predatory market practices against ranchers. On nearly every important issue today the NCBA chooses to support packer policies at the expense of the cattlemen and packers don’t even pay into the checkoff and only four percent of cattlemen choose to join the NCBA. It’s easy to see, by paying into the beef checkoff cattlemen are digging their own grave and paying for the golden shovel to do so. So how have ranchers done ever since NCBA stole the checkoff? We’ve lost half our cattle producers, beef consumption has declined by 30 percent, and the four largest meatpacking corporations now have a death grip on 82 percent of the market. At the same time the National Chicken Council says that during the first 29 years of the beef checkoff’s existence $2.2 billion was collected and spent. During those same 29

Cow Thieves’ Paradise BY ED ASHURST


he brand laws in Arizona and the enforcement of them have collapsed. In the last several years, close to 3000 head of cattle have been stolen from at least 32 individuals. These are conservative numbers. The most recent and noted being the loss of over 400 cows, plus calves and bulls, from noted cowboy Milo Dewitt in Santa Cruz County, as well as an undetermined number from Robert Noon also in Santa Cruz County, and well over a hundred cows with calves from well-known attorney and judge, Tom Kelly, in Yavapai County. The case of Milo’s missing cattle is a classic example of how these cases are being handled, or not being handled, depending on how you choose to describe them. Milo was told by an independent investigator who is assisting him in the investigation to file a complaint with the Santa Cruz County sheriff’s office. Deputy Pablo Camacho wrote the report. Since then Milo has phoned the sheriff’s office numerous times requesting information, but he has not been able to get any information from them. He also notified Ron Hirsch, the local livestock brand inspector for the state of Arizona who is an employee of the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Ron filed a report. Then Milo, on February 24, drove to Casa Grande to meet with Manny Angulo the chief inves-

tigator for the Office of Special Investigations for the Department of Agriculture. At this meeting the investigator admitted to Milo that they were not working on the case. Apparently the sheriff’s office isn’t either. There are good reasons for this collapse of the Arizona brand department and the increase of cattle theft. Some of these reasons are obvious while others are subtle. Here are some comparisons of the obvious: In 1984 there were 50 brand inspectors statewide, many of whom were old cowboys who knew what they were looking at. Onsite visual inspections were required by law for all cattle sales and movement out of state. Today much has changed. According to the Arizona Department of Agriculture website: “When fully staffed, the Animal Services Division of the Department of Agriculture employs 20 livestock services field staff throughout the state of Arizona. Of this amount, nine are full time AZPOST certified officers, six are full time inspectors, and five are part-time inspectors”. I was recently told they are not fully staffed. Let’s look at some comparisons with other states. Currently in Wyoming, there are 78 brand inspectors listed on the department’s website. Any cattle that are sold at the ranch or transported across county lines are required to have an onsite inspection by a state inspector. All cattle leaving a feedlot are required to have an onsite inspection. There are no self-inspection books. In Nevada the state is cut up into four regions. All cattle transported out of a region are continued on page four


Vac’s And Non-Vac’s


ell aren’t I special? You are now reading the words of a free man, liberated after a year in lockdown. Yes, I have officially had both shots of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine and my wife has released me to go to the hardware store. It didn’t take long to discover that we still have a BIG problem. No, the process of getting the shot was not traumatic and, in fact, for a government program it was a very efficient operation. No, the problem developed when I reentered society for the first time in a year. I was in the nail and screw aisle of the hardware store, minding my own business and checking out the washers, when I was accosted by a pony-tailed, tie-dyed member of the Vaccination Police. In a loud voice he announced to the entire store, “YOU AREN’T WEARING A MASK!” “How very observant of you,” I replied. “But I have had both shots of the vaccine!” “But there’s still a 5% chance of you contracting COVID and spreading it to others!” “And there’s a 95% chance of you being a busybody jerk,” I replied. “And by the way, I’d appreciate it if you’d maintain proper social distancing instead of getting in my face because I can tell you had pizza with anchovies for lunch.” “If you don’t put a mask on right now I’m going to report you to the manager.” “Go ahead,” I said, “he’s right over there in light bulbs. He’s the bald guy not wearing a mask either because he got the shots the same time I did. By the way, have you been vaccinated?” “Absolutely not.” the hippy-dippy dude said. “I am ‘vaccine apprehensive’. I don’t believe in them.” “Well, when you get deathly ill I hope you’re given the Andrew Cuomo treatment, only instead of being thrown into a home full of healthy but vulnerable old folks I think you ought to be sent to both the Senate and House chambers and Congressperson’s offices where you

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