Thank you for the April issue article “High On Grass” (page 62) and hopefully the start of a better beef market. When I attended the Nebraska Sustainable Ag meeting this year, the increase in grass-fed was amazing.

It has been my idea that a good information source would save billions in farm program money and health costs. How do we get the word out when our own beef people and organizations are against change?

Thanks again for an interesting article. I hope to hear more as info becomes available. I hope we can help small ranchers before it is too late.
Jim Weber
jweber@neb-sandhills.net

You Want A Free Market?

The April issue “Editor's Roundup” (“Johnson amendment is a bad idea,” page 64) states “I'm no economist, but I tend to believe that free markets work best when left alone.”

You're absolutely right on both fact statements. Free markets are the only way to go. Then you try to mix facts up in and to the provisions of the bill.

The bill, as you write, prohibits a packer from “owning, feeding or controlling of hogs and cattle (less than 14 days from slaughter) by packers with more than 2% market share.”

This law does one thing: It prohibits packers with more than 2% market share from integrating the beef industry as has been done in the chicken industry. There are no subsidized provisions in the bill. No acts to be done by government. There is no control of the packer, feedlot operator or rancher in any way, shape or form. The bill purely and simply prohibits the packer with more than 2% market share from owning cattle more than 14 days prior to slaughter. No more. No less.

Without this bill, U.S. packers could easily buy up control of the feedyards. Then the packer would feed its cattle only, not yours or mine. The cattle would be purchased from ranchers on contracts only. If the rancher doesn't like the packer's offer, the rancher must keep his cattle. No one is left to buy the cattle.

Is this what you call a free market? One where the packer controls the price the rancher is paid?
Richard Evans
Beaumont, TX

The Estate Tax Obstacle

One thing I was grateful for was the page on estate taxes (February 2002 page 60). Perhaps this could be reprinted and enlarged because this is an obstacle to all farmers and ranches.
Winona Brauer
Ovald, TX

Send reader letters, with name and address, to BEEF, 7900 International Dr., Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55425; or e-mail to beef@primediabusiness.com. BEEF reserves the right to edit for length.