COLUMBIA, MISSOURI (April 10, 2020) - The Missouri Cattlemen's Association today April 10, 2020, participated in a conference call with United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue regarding the extreme volatility in the cattle markets made even more evident by the market disruptions subsequent to the fire at a Tyson processing facility eight months ago and the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The call was hosted by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and consisted of members of the NCBA live cattle marketing working group. MCA Vice President Bruce Mershon represents Missouri on the working group and participated in today's call.
"We appreciate NCBA for organizing this call and appreciate the Secretary's candid conversation with us," said Mershon. "The Secretary wants ideas and it is our responsibility to producers in this state to ensure all ideas are heard and relayed to the highest levels of government in this state and in Washington, D.C." The Secretary said the Department is not naive to the fact that the markets need immediate attention.
"I know it doesn't come easily. I want you all to know while I appreciate you as patriots and heroes, but I don't expect you to do it as a loss and sacrifice for your families," said Perdue. "So, we are going to try to get this thing straightened out the best we can."
According to Mershon, MCA is "laser focused" on long-term structural changes needed in the cattle markets to increase price discovery and transparency.
"We are listening to producers and we will not settle for good enough. We want to be smart and we have formed an internal working group in the state to explore all possibilities to bring meaningful, structural changes to the cattle markets," said Mershon. "We need all ideas on the table. We understand the anger and I am angry too, but we need ideas to make meaningful changes to help the farm and ranch families we represent."
Secretary Perdue also asked for ideas in a very "complex" marketing situation. He said his Department needs ideas of "what is going on and why." He noted he wants to "rectify" the situation.
"I don't like this divergence of prices and I'm working with CFTC for more transparency if there is a way we can function there. Let's make sure we look at it closely and do the right thing the best we can," said Perdue.