Jon AngellFrom the Publisher ... Jon Angell

Grassland Management
Stewardship of the land is something of interest to me. For this month, I came across an article about range management and the work at maintaining grazing acres. The use of fire as a grassland management tool has intrigued me. Also the issue of woody species into traditional grasslands is becoming more at issue. As if we haven’t enough…

More movement on packer concentration?
Also in our pages this month are a few news items surrounding just a little scrutiny on the price discovery problems in the meat industry. I understand, but don’t necessarily agree with the folks that believe that AMAs (alternative marketing agreements) are the way forward for our industry. I’m not real fond of how that worked out in the chicken and hog sectors.

Breaking news as we are getting ready to print I see that Hertzog family who invested in a feeding and processing operation in the Kansas City area have run into some headwinds. It’s my understanding that in addition to their own retail outlet, they had space in the HyVee grocery stores meat counters in the KC area as a local beef option. It was working. HyVee customers and management were both supportive of the project. However, early reports state that the out-of-state HyVee Corporate office has forced the removal of the local beef product.

We will have to watch and see how this plays out. My gut tells me this may be an example of likely = ... Monopoly - hardball.

I had a friend who owned a small butcher shop many years ago when Premium Standard Farms started up (I may have told this story before). He liked the pork from them and had started using the meat packing startup. At the time when his "IBP (Iowa Beef Packers) caught wind" that he wasn't buying IBP pork anymore and buying Premium Standard Farms, the IBP meat broker told him if he liked Premium Standard Farms pork so well, he could go and buy his beef off them too. Premium Standard Farms processed pork only but the IBP man's message was clear. If you wanted to buy any beef you better not be buying the other guy’s pork. Later IBP was bought by Tyson. Premium Standard farms was swallowed by Continental Grain and then sold to Smithfield Foods. .... etc. etc. etc.

My point being is that the large protein companies have monopolized and destroyed the marketplace for producers and are royally putting it to the public. They play hardball and crush competition, often to later come in and buy their best assets pennies on the dollar later; which is why calls for producers to build their own processing plants rarely… I mean hardly ever succeeds in the end.

Monopolistic companies are truly hard to stand against. The regulators have let them grow to mega monsters with a wink and nod. The unwritten theory being that with consolidation and economies of scale the consumer (voter) will get inexpensive readily available product. I believe and now many producers, consumers and legislators believe that these international corporations have violated the unwritten theory. They aren’t delivering on their end of the deal. We busted up the big Five at the turn of the former century when those five controlled around 60 percent of the meat market. Today's big Four control over 80 percent of the meat market. The equity and transference of wealth being seized by the Big Four is obscene. It's time for some trust busters to go to work.

Bipartisan legislation
I will draw your attention to Bill Bullard’s oped on page 19 concerning legislation. When nearly everything else we buy is tagged with what country it was made, grown or assembled, I truly have a hard time understanding why you would exclusively give the power of substitution to a corporate monopolistic entity over the American consumer. Bipartisan legislation is also directed toward requiring a certain percentage of negotiated trades to improve price discovery. Since these big corporations have grown to be so powerful, wealthy, and international… I am not sure bipartisan legislation tweaks will accomplish enough, but it is a start.
I might favor a Teddy Roosevelt big stick, trust busting solution – which is highly unlikely.

Reader Feedback
I guess now is a good time to mention I received a few letters this past month. A couple with supportive comments and highlighting what they “liked” about our publication. I did receive a note not so flattering of my efforts; “I am very disappointed that you have decided to get very political with The Advocate. I have seen nothing but hot air from politicians. They are not our solution. Please keep to the news and facts.”

I would agree that I don’t think politicians are our solution. I think the private sector in a stable and safe environment is the solution I’m looking for. I believe that government run amok is the problem. I could be less political if the government wasn’t up in our daily business at every turn – currently our federal government is all about not doing what it should be doing and overstepping (mandates they haven’t the authority for, trampling local and state authority, a spending problem, a border problem, etc.) where it has no business being.

I think we are all forced into being political at this point.

Believe it or not, every month I actively resist a full political and policy rant that would burn ears, offend ladies and be inappropriate for children’s ears. And please if anyone can point to anything I report as news that is un-factual let me know. Opinion editorials often walk a gray line, but even then I try to weed through anything that doesn’t have some kind of reasonable grounding in facts or reasonable theory.

If I’m in error, let me know, and point me to the trusted source of any contrary “facts.”
Trusted sources are harder to sort through since Walter Cronkite retired.

We have plenty of good news and opinions in this month’s issue. In fact, on page 17, I couldn’t decide which of Krayton Kerns to print so we are giving you two this month. Our regular features struck me as particularly good this month. I think you (most of you) will enjoy this issue.

Please take time in particular to the advertisers as they are a key supporter to our efforts. Please give them a chance at your business and be sure to mention their support of our paper in any contact with them… it helps.

As always thanks for reading and your continued support and feedback.