Editor's note: The following commentary is in response to "Public Justice Attorney Claims 'Smear Campaign' Against R-CALF and OCM", a commentary by David Muraskin, published by Drovers. The opinions in the commentary below are those of Kate Miller.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
A few things for clarification:
- I have repeatedly asked Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) to present research in the form of peer reviewed studies, economic analysis, data tables, or market research to support any of their many claims. To date, I have received nothing but opinion pieces, and misleading graphs that disregard key economic principles like supply data.
- Your reply, while beautifully written, again falls short of providing the fact-based analysis I seek. The original article pointed to ways the agencies had partnered in the market place. Organization of Competitive Markets' (OCM) responded to the article detailing that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) does provide pro bono legal services and small annual contributions to their program. You have clarified that you are not aligned with HSUS, but will you share for us your opinion on industrialized agriculture? Will you provide for us your point of view on meat animal production practices? Will you provide for us how you propose agriculture should move forward in feeding a growing population? In the name of institutional transparency, what is your position on packers, vertical integrators, and large-scale family farmers?
- I am not aligned with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). I was not familiar with the previous pieces by Mr. Frazier or Mr. Stromprud, but I am glad that my own research and testimony lands me among the archives of other individuals who have been tasked with the advancement of the beef industry.
- I am a volunteer for Stand Up Republic. I find Mr. McMullin to be an inspiring leader for his willingness to withstand personal mocking in defense of the truth. I do not represent the views of Stand Up Republic with my commentary on the beef business.
- I find it interesting that producers already have the option to do a redirect in the markets you are attacking with your patriotically “First Amendment” litigation. From my understanding your lawsuit simply gives producers the option to bypass contributing to the state councils, sending the entire contribution to the federal level. Instead of making independent beef producers at the state level stronger, from my chair it looks like you are simply enhancing the NCBA’s revenue? Am I the lying puppet of the NCBA or the whistle blower alerting cattlemen to how your lawsuit will essentially financially gut state level associations?
Mr. Muraskin, I have dedicated my life to this industry. I am an independent producer. I work for independent processors. I champion independent restaurant owners to put beef on their menus. I am not desperately pimping anyone’s dogma.
My questions are not about how R-CALF USA is going about their business, but why and on what factual basis? I am simply an independent mind that wonders when you and your brood are finished ‘giving us choice,’ who will be our voice? Will it be you? Will it be Bill Bullard? Will it be Joe Maxwell? Who will board a plane to South Korea to help exports grow by 12% next year? Who will fund research into the cutout to increase its value? Who will disseminate information to consumers about beef products? Who will walk the halls of Congress on my behalf? Who will fund local programs teaching people about beef? Who will be my voice in the industry when I am at home ranching?
I see how state beef councils and the NCBA advance my livelihood. I have data to back that up in the form of the Kaiser report, in the form of the current cutout value, in the form of export demand.
You claim the NCBA uses the producer supported Beef Checkoff program for ‘their own advancement.’ Can you explain to me what that means exactly? For whose advancement? Can you provide documentation? Show me the irrefutable collusion between the packers and the NCBA that is disadvantageous to producers like myself.
From my chair, I know I am not capable of breeding, feeding, marketing, harvesting, selling and distributing the beef I raise entirely on my own. I need the entire system working in cooperation with me, packers included. I have no use for an ‘us versus them’ mentality in an ecosystem where we rely on each other to survive. The R-CALF USA narrative that preaches disenfranchisement nationalism, packer collusion and NCBA mismanagement; yet routinely fails to mention economics of supply, fundamental inefficiencies in cow-calf production and lack of economies of scale for small producers—preaches only a mantra of disillusionment without offering tangible remedies. I have a low threshold of tolerance for dogma that forgoes personal responsibility to place blame at the feet of capitalism, while simultaneously begging the government for additional oversight and regulation.
All I have wanted from the beginning is the research that proves the multiple hypothesis coming from R-CALF HQ in something other than an opinion editorial press release. Show me the money trail. Show me the research. Show me how you intend on fixing what you deem to be broken and how it will make my industry better.
But stop telling me and the rest of this industry what to think without providing the resources to back up your claims. I am all for the First Amendment. I just prefer when we exercise our right to Freedom of Speech for the truth, the old-fashioned brand of truth that is not marred by opinion journalism but is rooted in scientific and economic principles, to be in the equation.
I would rather reek of desperation fighting to preserve the industry I love and championing a return to truth, than smell like opinions fighting to be facts. You know the old colloquialism about opinions, right? Everyone has one. They all stink.
Note: Kate Miller, communications director for Stand Up Republic Arkansas, is a third-generation rancher, a tenured meat processing professional and has a development background in global trade.