BEEF Editors' Blog

Can The Beef Industry Get Along?

The beef market has room for all.

I selected the title for this blog with a great deal of self-advisement beforehand. In the same vein as Wes Ishmael’s recent blog where he detailed a long conversation he had with himself, I had to think this one through a little bit.

The reason? I knew the answer before I asked the question. And the answer is…No, we can’t.

Don’t take it personally. A brief walk through the pages of human history shows we never have been able to. So maybe being disagreeable is in our DNA. At least one could get that idea from reading the comments that the veggies who troll looking for something to get mad about like to post. So maybe that’s it—vegetarian lifestyle=disagreeable personality. I know I’d be pretty cranky if that’s all I had to eat.

But I digress. One could also get that idea by reading the comments that the legitimate readers of our online articles post.


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For example, there were several comments on a recent article about Lee Leachman’s perspective on the beef business. Leachman is unabashedly all about producing high-quality beef, the kind of product that high end restaurants with very white tablecloths demand.

In fact, at a recent field day at Decatur County Feedyard in Oberlin, KS, Leachman went as far as to reference Rabobank’s report earlier this year indicating that the U.S. has become a hamburger society. He told the folks in attendance that if they wanted to produce beef for the hamburger market, they were in the wrong room.

Which leaves me scratching my head—not at Leachman’s comments, but the fact that I can‘t make the numbers add up.

Rabobank’s Don Close makes a strong and thoughtful argument that ground beef is what’s leading consumer demand in the U.S. Then I look at the success of the many branded beef programs in the country, most of which specify upper two-thirds Choice. So clearly there’s a demand for the good stuff, too. In fact, one foodservice distributor told me recently that its high-end branded beef program is outselling everything else they offer and its sales increases are gaining faster than the rest of the company put together.

Maybe I don’t have to make the numbers add up. Maybe all I have to do is recognize that we have a very diversified bunch of consumers out there, who create markets for a very diversified offering of beef products, which creates opportunities for the many entrepreneurially-minded folks who call themselves beef producers.

Maybe we all do.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Frank Schlichting (not verified)
on Apr 9, 2014

I think what you are saying is very true, the cow calf sector is extremely diversified. Especially in methods of production and even each producers motivation for remaining in the industry. there is no "right way" Some examples is the quad vs horse debate and the organic vs conventional production model.

We would all be better off if we just ran our businesses to satisfy our individual needs and desires and quit arguing with other producers as to why our way is better than theirs. Live and let live!

Ranching is as much about lifestyle and the ability to enjoy the freedom to choose to live our lives as we see fit. Profit has never been the main reason we continue ranching. If it were we would all sell out, put our money in the bank and sit on a beach somewhere with a drink in hand!

Stuv (not verified)
on Apr 9, 2014

Bravo. You are making good sense. There are a lot of different folks out there making beef out of grass, corn, air, water and all the rest of it. I think the market for beef is becoming more diversified. There is corn-fed, grass-fed, heritage breeds, angus, cross-bred, etc etc. If we embrace the diversification instead of pushing just one section or method, the whole show has a better chance of getting along and also doing well.

W.E. (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2014

"...we have a very diversified bunch of consumers out there, who create markets for a very diversified offering of beef products, which creates opportunities for the many entrepreneurially-minded folks who call themselves beef producers." Amen, yes, indeed.

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What's BEEF Editors' Blog?

Everyday musings from BEEF Editors on the latest beef industry news and events.


Burt Rutherford

Burt has more than 35 years of experience communicating about beef industry issues. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works...

Wes Ishmael

Among the industry’s most insightful thinkers, Wes Ishmael concentrates on industry price and market perspectives for BEEF magazine. Along with his monthly “Cattle Economics” column...

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