Jon AngellFrom the Publisher ... Jon Angell

Feature Local
This month, two of our contributing writers turn in shop local stories. Our feature by Sarah Geist and our youth page by Schyler Angell both speak to shopping “small town local.”

This is a fitting time of the year for that as all sorts of small town “local” retailers because most are under a lot of financial pressures. These pressures come from the big guys and the internet all year long and a changing attitude of many shoppers. For many local retailers, the fourth quarter or the “Christmas season” has become a question of pass or fail. For those that pass, their reward is to compete for another year.

We believe that small businesses such as the several butcher shops in our feature have the stuff worthy of our support. They are award winning experts in their fields. We encourage you to seek out and support your own local and even make the drive to support other worthy small retailers. As much as I like various chain stores and internet sites because they have a place, they shouldn’t completely replace small local, and to keep the unique diversity that they offer requires forethought and effort.

Murder Charges Filed
Below the fold on front we have more information surrounding the two missing cattlemen from Wisconsin. This is such a tragic incident. It’s hard to wrap your mind around. This type of thing should be reserved for the likes of fiction writers like John Grisham or Stephen King, … it is a fallen world we live in.

Litigation and Investigation
There is plenty of litigation and investigations all around us politically, locally and within the cattle industry.
USDA and P&S is investigating the Big Packers for any evidence of collusion and anti-trust violations following the Tyson fire. Congress is investigating foreign ownership of the packing industry and how that all came about.

R-CALF has sued the USDA over a department rule to mandate EID’s that apparently may be conflicting with previously passed legislation. R-CALF is also suing the four big packers for colluding against cattle producers.

Breaking news as we are readying to print… a group of beef purchasers headed up by Pacific Agri-Products that buy directly from the big four packers have filed a class action suit against them. The class period goes back to January 1, 2015 and claims that the country’s largest meatpackers conspired to reduce the capacity of their slaughter and packing plants in order to pay less on one end of the supply chain so they could raise prices on the other. According to Pacific Agri-Products the defendants agreed and “publicly signaled” to one another to reduce slaughter volumes by closing or idling plants and halting any plans for expansion.

During this period, the companies reported historically high prices, low production, and adequate supply. “Collectively, these closures reduced the industry’s annual slaughter capacity by millions of cattle per year,” the complaint says, resulting in underutilization of declining capacity.

The complaint includes direct quotes from executives on numerous corporate earnings calls. This theme was clear: executives saw reducing capacity as a great way to improve margins. The complaint paints a picture of a cozy industry. The companies and their executives know each other well, engaging one another frequently at industry conferences and association meetings.

So it seems the packers will now be forced to fight a legal war on two fronts; one originating from the suppliers of cattle and another from the buyers/consumers of beef.

Among Our Columnists
Our columnists offer several interesting takes on current topics. Justin has some interesting suggestions on page 4. Doc Martin on page 8 has a detail on a feature disease for the month (anaplasmosis) in which I learned several new things about, maybe you will too.

Good news for those who enjoy Krayton Kerns conservative cow doctor column on page 17. He has come out of a short lived retirement and I have renegotiated our terms of use to something we both can leave with. His column is truly loved by many and despised by several I know. I’m a fan because I’m conservative too. But agree or not, he writes well and is thought provoking doing it, which merits his space in our pages.

I often disagree with Alan Guebert on page 5. But like Krayton Kerns, he writes well and is thought-provoking in his own way. This month, Alan Guebert stresses the brain drain of moving government away from D.C. to K.C.

I however believe that you will never correct the political left if you exclusively draw permanent employees from the left coast. The Federal Government is naturally progressively left leaning due to proximity of that kind of employee. Think about it. As a conservative, the left leaners unwilling to move to such a traditional Midwest City like Kansas City or Omaha to service agriculture constituents… well, darn! This big move may work way better than I dreamed it would.
Bravo, let’s move some more agencies out of D.C.

These are indeed interesting and turbulent times we live in. It’s all hard to keep up with and we could go on and on. We will continue to report and comment as we can, but since I’m out of time and space we’ll leave the rest till next time. Thanks for reading and your continued support of our efforts.