October 19, 2002
Contact: Jim Whitt, (800) 874-4928
The Challenge of Change
"Who is the beef industry and what is it going to have to do to be successful in the future?"
That's the challenge Jim Whitt gave to cattle feeders attending
the 2002 Annual Convention of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Oct.
Profitability in the beef industry has always been the result of one segment of the industry making money at the expense of another segment of the industry. To answer the question of "Who is the beef industry?" Whitt posed another question, "If the population of the world eliminates beef from their diet, will it have any effect on your business? Regardless of what segment of the industry you're involved in, the consumer is the one we all have to ultimately satisfy. That means we have to work together to create a value-added business model."
That means people in the cattle industry need to shift their focus. "Arguing over issues such as 'captive supply' and the beef checkoff is the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," Whitt said.
To prove his point, he showed a video clip from a newscast that featured the Sierra Club blaming "animal factories" for poisoning the environment. "While we're fighting with each other over issues that will prove to insignificant in the long term, the Sierra Club, PETA and other groups are controlling public opinion."
Whitt said the old beef business model won't work anymore, but producers have always prided themselves for their ability to negotiate in a cash market. Quoting psychologist Abraham Maslow, Whitt explained why it is difficult for producers to learn a new way to market cattle, "When the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."
Whitt expressed his confidence in TCFA members to meet the
challenge of change. "Many of you in this room helped create a new
beef business model that moved the cattle feeding industry from the