Monthly Archives: January 2012

Tea Party and Cowboy Hats 2

The second Tea Party topic is the Beef Checkoff.  Not long ago this was really wound up in a scandal.  I do not feel there has been sufficient time gone by yet to prove things are on the right track.  It takes a bit of time to reestablish trust.  There is some talk about raising the checkoff.  Tennessee just raised their checkoff.  If I recall correctly there is close to 40,000 cattle producers in that state.  1300 cast ballots on their checkoff.  Only 700 voted in favor of getting it raised.  So 700 people decided for 40,000.

Crazy to me how such a small part of the population inflicts its will on the whole.  Kind of like the dipsmacks in DC.  To take by force, to do good, can not be over shadowed by the use of force.  It is still theft.  If that were to happen here in Nebraska, where I live, you would need my voluntary consent.  You will not get it.  I will continue to give you the dollar per head you steal today. I consent to it. No more than that.  You have no right to enact that kind of force.

The only right a human has is his right to his life.  All other rights are granted to him.  You can’t have individual rights, unless there are personal property rights.  Money is person property.  To suggest raising the checkoff to two dollars per head is stripping people of a small part of their personal property rights.  And in turn their individual rights.   The American cowboy valued his freedom above all else.  How can some people get this all wrong?

Now I have been to other countries.  I have seen the checkoff in action over there.  It does some good.  But ,why do they run commercials here on farm radio where people like me are the listening audience.  Yet when I listen to the punk rock station or hip hop station I never, never ever, hear a beef commercial?  Pissin dollars down the drain if you ask me.

I have done the math on this.  If I owned my house.  I rent.  But if I bought a home, and made mortgage payments, what I currently pay in checkoff dollars would pay two months mortgage payments, and then a little left over.  If it was doubled, it would cost me 5 months mortgage payments.  On a fifteen year mortgage.  My wife and daughter would probably rather have the house paid off than some promo deal.

Hey,  ya know.  It is called the Beef checkoff.  I don’t raise or sell beef.  Just cattle.  Maybe the packer and retailer should kick in the other dollar.  After all they are the ones that need to move beef.  I’ve been on numerous YCC type deals.  Every grocery store manager tells me that beef is in the back of the store for a reason.  Foot traffic.  They put in the back to get people to walk past the other items and impulse buy.  They are willing to sell beef at a loss to attract buyers to purchase other things.  For example.  The Independence Day sales. Buy X amount of pounds of  90/10 ground beef, 2 two liter pepsi’s and get a package of buns for free.   Attract them to buy beef and Pepsi and get free buns.  Proof Beef is king.  So why don’t they pay to promote beef, if it is such a necessity to their business?

Take these guys from Texas.  They wanted to sue Oprah, the only mad cow in the US I might add, for bashing beef.  I guess in Texas there is a law that you can’t bash a perishable item.  The judge ruled against them.  They sell steers not beef, and steers are not perishable.  Again I sell cattle not beef.

We are seeing record high prices for cattle.  Some people think this is reason enough to raise the beef checkoff.  Apparently these folks do not know much about the cattle biz.  I may be selling cattle for record prices, I am paying record prices for the replacement feeders to.  The margins are the same.  So if this is such a good idea why didn’t we do it 10 years ago?  I made the same profits in 2001 with a dressed bid in the $1.30’s as I do today with dressed bids near 2 bucks.  There is no validity in that argument.

Or they say we need to raise it because we have fewer cattle today.  Gosh, I wonder how the cattle biz ever made it out of the 1950’s.

I have heard this argument a bunch.  If we don’t raise it the industry will fade away.  In my mind I have a hard time seeing how an $80 Billion industry is going to die.  Especially when 93% of the people in it never got in it to make a profit anyway.  Almost all of the nation’s cow herds are 50 or less.  These folks all have off farm income.  So cows are like a hobby, or a rent check, or some lifestyle image they are trying to satisfy.  The ones that would be in danger of fading out are the full timers like me, I mean if you want to use that argument.  Yet here I stand telling you not to raise the checkoff.

The checkoff is an infringement on free markets.  It is a fixed cost.  And that is what it is to my operation.  Two ways to look at it.  If I sell a pot of feeders, and there are 75 head on that load, and my profit per head is $75, then all my profit from one calf goes to the checkoff.  Or for example if you sell as many head per a year as I do, at today’s prices I donate two head a year to the checkoff.  To place  input costs into something and give it away is like death loss.  So to double the checkoff, would be no different than saying doubling one’s death loss is acceptable business practice.  No one would go for that

It is human nature to raise ones costs during times of high profits, speaking from the cow/calf side.  Thing is, can we maintain these prices?  Only time will tell. What usually happens when people make big profits they go spend money on things they would like to have.  It gets tough to make those payments later when the price for your product goes back down.  And they will go back down.  The decisions you make today will affect you tomorrow.

I am for some research, advertising, and education.  Some of what we spend time on is pointless, and is a waste of money.  Prove to me you can do good with my dollar that you steal now, before you ask for another dollar per head.

I have plenty more arguments.  If you want to give more money to the checkoff, may I suggest you take your checkbook to convention and write them a donation while you are there.   Just keep your filthy hands out of my checkbook.

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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Tea Party and Cowboy Hats 1


I am writing this more as an opinion than I’d like to.  There are some topics that will come up at NCBA convention that I really wanted to get some more info on.  I tried to call certain individuals, only to never have my calls returned.  I see this as an unjust way to treat a member of the association.  I also see it as a big lack of accountability, accountability meaning a willingness to explain ones actions.  Certain movements spring up as a result of other movements.   Unfortunately, I  will not be attending convention this year.  I have decided to spend the money that would be required for me to travel, on my daughter instead.  Take her to the zoo a few times this year.  So someone else is going to have to be the Tea Partier.  And I feel there should be a lot of you

The first topic is this silly idea that a task force of CBB and NCBA folks came up with.  They want to subsidize the expansion of the nation’s cow herd through a tax credit for a duration of about three years.  With the way the cow calf operator is bragging about his profits right now I can not see why they would need any more incentive.  Business expansion is supposed to take place through retained profits, not subsidies.  The cattlemen didn’t like the ethanol tax credit and subsidy.  We lobbied against it.  Where is the consistency in our message?

Here is an interesting thought.  The south is still not ready to begin herd rebuilding.  At least that is what I hear from other order buyers.  I also hear they are feeding cows in southern feedlots, just to hang on to them.  If this expansion is going to take place where are the females going to be held if there is no grass for them?  I have the impression that  heifers will be kept, and bred in a feedlot environment.  The feed yard sector has been overbuilt for a long time.  So who do suppose is going to receive the tax credit.  The feedyard maybe?  Is this to suggest that they are receiving a hand out because they are the next “to big to fail”?

Listen, business does not sacrifice itself to others.  You profit and are rewarded as you should be.  Karl Marx predicted that capitalism would destroy itself.  In destroying ourselves we are destroying that which we are an end product of, capitalism.  To take from each according to his ability, and give according to his need, is Marxism.  This summarizes the principle of communist society.  How can we bitch about obama’s wealth redistribution plans and then ask Congress to do the same thing for us?  This country was built on independent men who succeeded on their sheer ability, without forced help.  To use help is collectivism.  If you invite the government into your business they have the right to tell you what to do on some fronts.  So I guess then you lose the right to bitch about government intervention, and regulation.

What is a subsidy any way?  It is a financial bargaining chip used to alter behavior.  Lets change the setting.  If you were in the wrong part of town you could offer a woman, a subsidy to alter her behaviors to your liking.  We would call her a whore.  When did an industry that was built by an American icon, the cowboy, become a bunch of whores?

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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Intro, and a peek at what’s to come

My name is Doug Ferguson.  I am the fifth generation on the family farm.  You may be familiar with some of my writings.  I used to blog for Cattle Call.     I was one of the original bloggers when the site launched in 2009.  To date I’m the only one of the original bloggers that submits blogs to that site. The reason I no longer will be submitting blogs to them is the new National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Young Producer Council chairman is a cattlefax employee.  Might sound silly to you, I know.  Here is the thing.  Cattlefax does more harm than good to the cattle biz.  That is a fact.  I love this business so I will not be a part of anything that may give the idea that I am okay with cattlefax.

On this blog you can expect more of the same of what I’ve been writing.  I will continue to blog about the cattle biz, life, political rants, even getting started in the biz.

Here is why my blog will be different.  Before I had an editor, that tweeked my stuff or even refused to post it.  Here the words are my very own and the gloves come off.  I will name names if I feel the need to do so.  I am not some young guy who worked on a receiving dock at bobby big feedyard for six months and then went back to grad school.  I am not an intern, or wanna be cowboy.  NO LIP SERVICE HERE.  I am the real deal.  See I started my stalker, feedlot, seed stock, order buying businesses from scratch.  That is right.  I did not inherit them.  I only got in the family business on the commercial cow/calf and farming side.  Most bloggers advocate leaving the impression of a baby calf standing in a field of honey suckle with butterflies dancing on his nose.  That is not reality.  I have been doing this full time for over ten years.  In my world your only credentials are your past transactions.  Therefore I do not believe a guy sitting in a corner office downtown should write about the biz.  Or even worse the markets

I may sound like an asshole, or a hard ass.  In the words of Gunnery Sargent Hartman “Because I am hard you will not like me.  The more you hate me the more you will learn.”

That is my goal here.  To share ideas. And hopefully help a few people out

I will post a few of my goodie oldies to start out with.  I have some new stuff I am still working on and it will be posted shortly


Posted by on January 27, 2012 in Uncategorized