From the Ground Up: No Pause Button in Beef Production
President John F. Kennedy once said, “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.” Jerry Armstrong is a beef producer in Lee and Burleson Counties.
“We’re dealing with a perishable product and it’s got an end-point that it’s gonna get sold at. They’re going to grow to a point. The better job you do the faster that happens. And they got to be marketed at that point. I mean, there’s some variation to that depending on whether you decide you’re going to retain ownership and keep them and feed them all the way through, but even when you do that, there’s a point out there and they’re going to get sold.”
Armstrong explained that producers don’t get to set their own prices.
“Wherever the market is that day is kind of where you’re at. You can’t stockpile them and wait for a better market. So that creates a little bit of a different problem than you’d have then if you were creating something that’s non-perishable. An automobile or anything.”
Armstrong also says that hitting the pause button isn’t an alternative.
“And you can’t just quit, you can’t quit producing them. You can’t decide, O.K. this doesn’t look like it’s going to be a good year so I’m going to put my cows on hold and we’re just not going to spend anything this year. We’re not going to produce anything, but we’re going to cut our expenses. Well, you can’t do that either. You’re dealing with a living creature. You still got to take care of them. You’re dealing with employees that, you know you don’t want to sacrifice them. You’re dealing with all of the things that you have. When you have tough times you’ve just got to figure how to get through them the best you can, but you can’t stop.”