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Montana Ag Network: Increasing packer capacity and market transparency

Posted at 6:18 PM, Nov 17, 2021

BILLINGS — The Montana Stock Growers Association (MSGA) met this week in Billings for their annual convention and trade show.

MSGA President Jim Steinbeisser from Sidney says for cattle producers in Big Sky Country and beyond, two of the biggest issues impacting their business of late are increasing packer capacity and increasing market transparency.

“This is one of the areas that we actually can have an impact on,” said Steinbeisser. “We all know that packer capacity is the bottleneck. It's really what is affecting our markets right now. So, we need to do whatever we can to increase that capacity."

"We can have a huge effect on local processor expansion and we're seeing some of that. We had a beef symposium earlier this week and it was very well received and well attended. There's a lot of interest in marketing beef in a small way. And it adds up. Take these times 40 small processors in this state, and pretty soon we're talking real numbers.”

He says in addition to the meat symposium, this year’s convention also featured a panel discussion allowing attendees to hear the challenges facing each segment of the beef cattle industry and workable solutions.

“So, we had a cow-calf producer, which a lot of us understand, we also had a major feedlot operator plus a representative from the big meat processor,” said Steinbeisser. “And there's some good questions for the big packers and there's some insight there that we don't fully understand. It's good for us to hear. Being out in the hills all year, some of the stuff we think are simple solutions, but maybe not necessarily so. It's good to hear from all segments and we also had a local processor too. We’re all tied together need each other.”

He says by each segment of the industry engaging in an open discussion hopefully the end result is better market transparency between cow-calf producers like himself and the feeder and ultimately the packer.

“Well, transparency gives us confidence in the price we're receiving,” said Steinbeisser. “Transparency won't necessarily increase our price, but at least we have confidence in the price we are receiving.”