Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use the full authorities granted to the agency to monitor and address concerns stemming from the shutdown of a Holcomb, Kansas beef packing facility following a recent fire. The temporary closing of the plant, which accounted for five percent of the daily U.S. cattle slaughter, has led to considerable consternation for both cattle producers and cattle markets alike.
In an Aug. 22 letter to USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson asked USDA to address a pair of specific issues related to the incident. The first being to help address the considerable shift in cattle slaughter to other plants by USDA shifting additional regulatory staff to those facilities.
“We ask USDA to provide all of the needed grading and inspection staff that will be required to address these needs as quickly as possible,” wrote Nelson in the letter.
In addition to keeping beef processing moving forward, Nebraska Farm Bureau also urged USDA to keep a close eye on cattle markets.
“Given the situation in Kansas and the resulting impacts it has had on cattle prices, we hope USDA and the Packers and Stockyards Division will actively investigate the recent movements in cattle markets. We also hope any anti-competitive activities will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” wrote Nelson.
The Packers and Stockyards Act makes it unlawful for any packer to engage in or use any unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive practices or devices as they procure livestock.
“While we certainly understand rules and regulations place restrictions on what assistance can be provided, we hope USDA will use all of its authority to ensure operations run smoothly and beef producers are treated fairly,” wrote Nelson. “We thank you and your team for your time and assistance through this difficult situation and for everything you do for Nebraska farm and ranch families.”