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New NCBA President: Cattle Producers Have Leverage

South Dakota rancher Todd Wilkinson is the new president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Despite the declining herd in the United States, he says the producers is in a good position in the market.

“How we got to this position is a function of a drought and we’re down millions of head of cattle from where we were. But this is not unusual ground for the cattle industry. We typically peak and valley every six or seven years. But what’s happened now is we’re at record exports, we’re at all time demand for our product. So, our products are selling well, they’re getting exported, and then you couple that with the cow herd being down, we finally have the leverage on the packer and I like to be able to play the game with a few aces in my hand, so I enjoy having some leverage for change.”

Wilkinson is hopeful the drought conditions will improve.

“We have a lot of pastures, but I’ve never had five dugouts go dry in the same year ever in all of 40 years have been doing this. So, I had grass, but I didn’t have moisture, and it wasn’t like I could build a pipeline or something into them. So, that impact going across the country, it’s just been really difficult for the producer. But you know, as much as we like to complain about moving snow, it’s just frozen water, so that snow is going to melt someplace and it’s going to help maybe revitalize some of this brown that really needs a drink.”

With a hopefully improving drought, he adds the outlook is encouraging for livestock producers.

“I just think that the outlook out there is awesome for the livestock sector, in particular the beef sector because we’ve proved one thing, America loves our product. Our consumer likes the quality of what we’re producing and the rest of the world wants to get a bunch of it. So, our ability to go out there and do what we love to do, work on the ground, preserve the ground, make it sustainable, all of that just rolls into a really good situation for the cow-calf sector and the feeder sector for the next four or five years.”

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