Industry Seeking to Recruit, Keep Livestock Producers

Despite recent record-high livestock prices, it’s tougher than ever to be a producer. Lack of access to land and labor, over-regulation and input costs are causing more people to exit the business, while preventing new producers from getting started. Livestock Marketing Association members have launched a producer profitability initiative, which aims to bring all segments of the livestock industry together to seek out solutions to strengthen producers’ bottom lines and incentivize the next generation. Joe Goggins, who owns Public Auction Yards in Billings, Montana, says getting involved was a no-brainer.

“We just continue to disperse cow herds. We continue to disperse flocks of sheep. We continue to lose thousands and thousands of acres out of protein production. And we really feel that we better push back, we better unify this industry somehow, some way, to try to encourage and incentivize people to want to do this.”

By working together, he says, all industry segments can accomplish so much more than working individually.

“We’re not going to unify around all things, but I think we can unify as an industry. I think if we create a grassroots movement, I really do believe that we can get some unity on this idea of creating some incentive not only for young people, for all people to want to stay in this and to leave their land in production.”

Goggins encourages producers of all types, sizes and location to reach out to those in their network – and to organizations they are part of – to have conversations about the biggest barriers to profitability. Those include the death tax, lack of incentives to keep land in livestock and forage production, and competition for land and margin. Mike VanMaanen, who owns Eastern Missouri Commission Co. in Bowling Green, Missouri, says despite the producer-focus of this initiative, Livestock Marketing Association is not trying to expand into an organization for farmers and ranchers. They simply recognize the power of a unified industry in achieving success.

“We just want to start a conversation with them. And then hopefully they take that to organizations they belong to. We’re wanting to keep in business and it’s that customer base that provides our livelihood.”

Mandy Geistweidt, who along with her husband and family owns Gillespie Livestock Co. in Fredericksburg, Texas, says the initiative will help market owners help their customers — and she’s seen just how much help is needed…tape

“Our taxes are going up incredibly, because the value of our land is rising astronomically. So, a lot of what was Dorper sheep and Angus cattle is now becoming vineyards and agritourism.”

But the implications could be much farther-reaching.

“It’s not only for our benefit if we keep these ranches in production. We look at this thing as preserving our food independence in this country. Preserving our national security. We’re this close to coming to some times where some people might get hungry. And the way I think we look at this is if the world wants the United States of America to produce the highest quality, safest product in the world, then all we ask is that that that these people can make a decent living.”

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