RUSH: This is Jay in Almont, North Dakota. Welcome, sir. Great to have you here.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush. It’s an honor to talk to you, and I’ve been a longtime listener, but I’ve been dealing with this cattle market that we’ve got in rural America, and it’s getting pretty disgusting when our cattle prices are in the bottom cellar when these slaughterhouse and packinghouses are making record profits.
And we can’t make our ends meet out here for expenses and stuff with these prices. And the reason why our prices are low the way it looks to me, is we’re bringing in so much foreign beef because all the foreign slaughterhouses — or the slaughterhouses that are owned by foreign countries — are bringing their cattle in before ours and we can’t get ours in.
RUSH: Now, I need to ask you something. There’s not a cattle shortage, right? Let’s talk about beef. There’s not a cattle shortage, right? There are plenty of head. That’s not the problem with the beef.
RUSH: The beef shortage is the slaughterhouses. The news we’re getting is the slaughterhouses have been shut down because so many people working there have developed the virus, and there’s no way to keep the slaughterhouses open. Is that not right?
CALLER: I realize there’s some slaughterhouses that are being closed, but they’re not all closed. Plus, it’s mainly the pig industry that’s having a lot of trouble. In the cattle industry, we’re still slaughtering cattle. It’s just that they don’t get it to the store fast enough, ’cause people are buying it up fast.
But the reason is, our markets are lower now than they were in the seventies, and they should be going up instead of down. They shouldn’t be going the wrong way. We should be able to sell our cattle for a decent price so that we can make a living on the family farm here.
RUSH: So I just need to ask: You’re a cattle farmer, you’re in the industry?
CALLER: Yeah, we raise cattle. We raise cattle for feeders. We raise butcher cattle, too, that we can take to the slaughterhouses, but they ain’t giving us a fair price. They’re way off the mark. We’re making maybe a couple hundred dollars if that. I’ve been losing money the last few years because our costs are more. But they’re making record profits.
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. This has been a problem that precedes the coronavirus?
CALLER: Oh, yes. In the last five years since they got rid of country origin labeling, that’s when everything started going down.
RUSH: You’re being killed by imports? Is that what your original point was?
CALLER: We import twice as much as we export, twice as much. We don’t need to import cattle. We’ve got enough cattle here. If we do need any more, they can bring some cattle in, but we can’t be losing money on the family farm.
RUSH: All right. Well, look. Pardon my naivete. Why, if we don’t…? If we’re not short of cattle, if there’s plenty of cattle to satisfy the American demand and desire for beef, why are we importing a bunch of beef that is acing out domestic suppliers? If the question sounds naive to you, I’m sorry, but please answer it ’cause it doesn’t make sense to a lot of people.
CALLER: Well, it doesn’t make sense to me, either, but the packinghouses are owned by foreign countries like Brazil. The biggest one is Brazil.
RUSH: A-ha! A-ha! So the slaughterhouses, the packinghouses are owned by the countries from which the other beef is being imported?
RUSH: Do the Chinese, by any chance, own some of the slaughter and packinghouses?
CALLER: Well, if you look at Tyson, it says “a multinational ownership.” Multinational, I don’t know what that means. Does that mean foreign people, ’cause they won’t say American people.
CALLER: But multinational… I’m assuming Chinese owns Tyson, too, part of it. But we’re just… I mean, I’m at the end. I mean, we don’t know what to do with these cattle.
RUSH: The Chinese do own a huge slaughterhouse packing concern called Smithfield.
RUSH: That’s a famous Chinese name. You go to Beijing and you look, and the name Smithfield is gonna be all over the Beijing phone book. You would be surprised at what a common Chinese name Smithfield is out there, Jay.
RUSH: Jay, did you expect President Trump to do something about this?
CALLER: Well, I heard he did mandate keep people working at these packinghouses. He made it mandatory that they gotta keep people working there so we can keep ’em open so we got meat on the shelves for the American people here.
RUSH: No, no, no. I mean before the virus, did you…? I assumed but I need to go back. Did you vote for Trump? No wrong answer.
CALLER: Yes, I did.
RUSH: Did you expect Trump to do something about this, ’cause Trump was, you know, “Make America Great Again! Stop this unfair trade practice stuff that’s been going on.” Did you expect him to do something about all this unfair foreign competition you’re dealing with?
CALLER: We’ve been hoping things were gonna change, but we’re actually the… The people raise —
RUSH: No, no. No wonder you’re gone wrong. You said you’ve been hoping and change. That’s Obama’s slogan.
CALLER: Well… Well, I called the USDA, Sonny Perdue. I had him on… I didn’t get him on the phone, but I called people that represent him there, ’cause you can’t talk him, and they didn’t even what a slaughterhouse was. They had to ask what a slaughterhouse —
RUSH: Wait a minute. People at the USDA did not know what a slaughterhouse was?
CALLER: No. And —
RUSH: Tell people what the USDA is. The USDA is Department of Agriculture, right?
CALLER: Yeah, they put the stamp on the meat saying it’s American beef, but that’s not always the case, either.
RUSH: Now, did you say you produce feeder beef, or do you actually produce consumer beef?
CALLER: I raise cattle for feeder. I’ll sell feeder cattle or I sell butcher cattle.
RUSH: Okay. Butcher cattle. Butcher versus feeder.
CALLER: Yeah, you can raise either one. You just gotta sell them at a different point in time. The feeders, they go to about 800 pounds — they sell ’em at 800 pounds — and the “fats” are around 1,300. That’s when they’re ready to be butchered and put on the grocery shelves.
RUSH: Right. Right, right, right, right, right. Of course, I only buy USDA prime, and that’s in even more tough demand.
CALLER: That’s what we raise here in North Dakota.
RUSH: Yeah. I’m sure.
CALLER: (crosstalk) prime meats.
RUSH: Look, I’ve been distressed — honest to gosh — from the earliest days of the shutdown. I have been opposed to this shutdown from about three weeks into it. It rubbed me the wrong way. Took me three weeks. I guess I understood it when it happened, because they were telling us that this virus was the Andromeda Strain and everybody who got it was gonna die.
It turns out that I don’t think its mortality rate is anywhere near what they originally thought or told us. But I have been bothered by this shut down, and I’ve shared this with you all from about three weeks into it, from a personal — deeply affectedly personal — standpoint. You… I say “you.”
I have to go various places for medical treatment, and everyplace I go is a ghost town. And you drive by some places, cities, whole cities are shut down, and behind every shutdown business there is a human story. It could be somebody’s lifelong dream. It could be somebody decided to go into business because they had nothing else to do.
There’s a reason behind every business, and every one of them shut down, and every one of them is in the process of being ruined. And as I drove by them, I would see the faces. I don’t know the actual people that owned them, but I would see the faces. It just broke my heart that we were doing this to ourselves.
And the longer it went on, the more unacceptable it became to me and the more incredible and inexplicable it became to me. And I kept asking, “Do people not realize what’s going on here? How in the world do they expect we’re gonna recover from this if this has no end in sight?” At the time, there was no end in sight to this.
At the time I’m talking about, they hadn’t even begun to talk about — the president nor anybody had begun to talk about — reopening, and then here came the stories of all the industries that are suffering, and the cattle business was one of them, and the food supply chain.
And because the penchant of the U.S. media right now is as much apocalyptic reporting as they can come up with, the food chain was destroyed. They were miles and miles… People were lining up in their cars for miles at food banks in Miami and Tuscaloosa and… You never saw the pictures of it.
You just got the stories. So the picture was painted of Dust Bowl, Depression-era America. And it just infuriated me, and it made me sad. You talk about empathy? I was overflowing. When I saw the stories about the cattle business, the entire meat food supply chain and the trouble that was brewing there? That’s serious, serious stuff.
And I wondered, “How much of this is explicitly tied to the virus and why?” So we got a partial answer. Some of this has been going on before the virus hit in the cattle business. What’s happening to the oil business? I don’t know that people have been able to hear ’cause there been just smothered with news, but the oil business has been trashed.
And in every one of these instances of a closed business, of a closed industry, of a damaged this or that, you gotta ask, “Who’s benefiting from this?” because somebody is somewhere. You don’t know who, and you don’t know how unless you actively start thinking about it and applying yourself to it.
You realize okay, this happens for whatever reason. Maybe the shutdown’s valid. But it happened, and then here come the exploiters and people who want to keep it shut down to exploit it, turn it into some sort of advantage either economically or politically — which, okay, fine. Welcome to real life.
But the number of people that are actually going to be ruined in this process, not just temporarily harmed or temporarily pained. You look at the number of people who are gonna be wiped out (chuckles) and then you look at all the people advocating for it! It’s mind-boggling to me.