Gypsy Wagon Feb/March 2022

By Betty Go Gigot, Publisher

How refreshing to see the talking heads on TV this week solving the problem of the proper way to price our product – cattle – all the way to the beef on the plate. That is a question I and some very smart people have fumbled around with since the late 1960s. I bet some of you have for longer than that. In one paragraph and with total authority, in one fell swoop, we are out of the woods, according to the national press and a few upper-level government workers. Our questions are answered. It is all the packers’ fault. We almost had to find another topic for this issue of CALF News.

I decided to go ahead and mention a few of the other market drivers that could have something to do with the price we receive and the price that is paid for beef on the off chance that simply crucifying the “BIG” boys will stop inflation and all will be right with the world. A quick government fix does it all. That and getting rid of some of those other “BIG” boys like Walmart and Amazon.

To our way of thinking, issues like how we handle beef imports and exports, retaining ownership, decisions on climate change, applying for carbon credits and genetic selection specific to beef-dairy crosses might also affect prices. We discuss all of those in this issue, along with what the state and national associations are moving forward with in those problem areas.

Back to the price of beef, little things like the price of fertilizer, seed and fuel to raise the crops we need to feed the cattle or even make FAKE beef could have an effect. Or the fuel to get the product to market and the trucks to do it might make a difference. Let’s not forget what those dreaded packers might have a problem with – maintaining the labor force they need to keep the processing lines moving despite COVID and its ugly ramifications. In other words, it is not just as simple as hitting a few people over the head. It is a very complicated process, from ranch to rail to plate, so let’s not forget it. If it was that simple we might have solved it years ago.

Another issue that affects all of us is what is going on at our southern border. Burt Rutherford revisits that topic after Larry Stalcup teed it up in our Dec. 2021/Jan. 2022 CALF News. It is almost impossible to imagine what it is like for the people who live and ranch on that border. Be sure to read Burt’s story.

On a lighter note, I just finished reading The Last Cowboys by John Branch. While watching the National Finals Rodeo the last few years, I discovered the Wright brothers out of Utah, as you all have I am sure. The family’s story is a fascinating read and worth your time. Next on my list is a new book by Mary Mertz called Feast of the Fields. Mertz and her family truly took the farm to town by hosting dinners with all of the trimmings in their Kansas cornfield with renowned chefs cooking the feast.

On a personal note, the Geiger/Gigot family had to face COVID first-hand recently with the death of beloved son-in-law, Rod Stillwell, from complications due to COVID. Married to daughter, Gina, Rod was an expert on irrigation and sprinkler systems and was respected across the industry. With a passion for water conservation, NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick and an occasional beer, Rod was a quiet, thoughtful member of the family. We already miss him greatly.