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You Need a Voice

Written by Dennis Sun
A while back, all Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) producer members received a letter dated Aug. 20 from the WSGA Officers, following an approved directive from the 2012 summer convention stating, “The Officers and Staff of WSGA are directed to seek to implement the Wyoming Beef Checkoff Strategic Plan as presented to the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention.” As region III Vice President, I was one of the officers who signed the letter as directed by those at the convention.
    A couple of years ago, we found out that Wyoming could not even vote yes or no on a state checkoff; we just didn’t have the statutory authority to do so. We only have the statutory authority to collect one dollar for the beef checkoff, and of that, at least 50 cents has to go to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. We can send more to the Beef Board, but whatever dollars we send, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board uses it for generic promotion – nothing with Wyoming’s name on it.
    First off, don’t get your shorts in a knot that this is about money – it’s not. It is about the process through legislation to establish a statutory amendment to discuss a state beef checkoff and through that process, each producer would have a vote. Those of you who received a letter from WSGA, send in the cards you received with the letter no later than Sept. 10 or call into the WSGA office if time is short. The bullets you have the choice to check are to support legislation, not support legislation or if you do support legislation, you would be willing to encourage with your local legislators to support the legislation.
    I think we need the discussion on a state checkoff, its opportunities and costs. Being in the publishing business, I fully understand the need to advertise and the good it can do for you. I’m also proud of Wyoming beef and think we have to get the word out about our product and how we produce it– not just about beef. If we do decide to fund a state checkoff down the road, we control where we spend the funds through our state beef council.
    We can’t sell our product by hiding in a hole. You, the producers, are the best spokespeople to sell Wyoming beef. Just look what the Lamb Cooperative has done. There is a reason we in Wyoming get better calf prices, even though our transportation costs are higher – the buyers like Wyoming calves, which means everybody down the line, from feeders to the consumer, must like them also. At a high-end restaurant in New York City that serves steak, do you think the customer wants a steak from Mississippi or Wyoming? A picture of a cow and calf with a mountain behind it sells the steak. That’s advertising and dollars in your pocket.
    Don’t forget Sept. 15 is the 30th Annual Ag Appreciation Day Barbecue in Laramie with the football game against Cal Poly. We all need to get to Laramie and support our UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. We also have the largest range school in the nation, so help us show some pride and attend the event. The grass is always green in War Memorial Stadium.
Dennis