BILLINGS, MT | Whether you’re a cattle producer, beef consumer or a patriotic citizen, this should interest you. Consider what America recently learned, what she went through and what she’s still going through since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
Consumers faced empty beef shelves at their grocery stores and shortages of other common goods, they learned they were dependent on China and India for critical medicines and medical equipment. We learned that critical automobile components were unavailable, and we learned that even our military complained of limited access to certain materials and parts for our national defense.
In short, we learned the hard way that America had outsourced too many of its critical manufacturing and production sectors and this has put America in peril.
We should thank God it wasn’t any worse. And we should pray to God that our leaders will correct this horrendous blunder.
And they’re beginning to. To incentivize the reshoring of our manufacturing and production capacity, former President Trump issued an executive order to buy American and hire American. President Biden did so as well, with executive orders to ensure that America’s future is made in All of America by All of America’s Workers and to strengthen America’s supply chains.
So, what a relief, America is being encouraged to produce more of what she consumes, particularly when it comes to pharmaceuticals, military readiness, and other manufacturers and producers of critical goods. Our national security, our health and our economic well-being depend on this new approach.
But it may be that both former President Trump and President Biden forgot to send the “start supporting America” memo to their respective Secretaries of Agriculture – Sunny Perdue under former President Trump and Tom Vilsack under President Biden.
You see, then Agriculture Secretary Purdue and now Agriculture Secretary Vilsack both pushed to force United States cattle farmers and ranchers to begin affixing radio frequency identification, or RFID eartags on their adult cattle when they travel from one state to another.
It was in July of 2020 when we learned that foreign shipments of millions of RFID cattle eartags the USDA had purchased from foreign manufacturers were delayed, and that this disrupted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan to distribute millions of foreign-made RFID eartags free-of-charge to United States cattlemen and cattlewomen to bait them into using the foreign-made RFID eartags on their U.S.-origin cattle.
At that time, we issued a news release proclaiming our opposition to any government action that would coax our members to affix foreign-made devices to their U.S.-origin cattle.
I’ll describe the issue that concerns us greatly with a question: “Is the U.S. government trying to force American cattle farmers and ranchers to purchase RFID eartags from foreign countries such as the Peoples Republic of China, which is under the control of the Communist Party of China?”
We cannot answer that question with complete certainty today. And so, R-CALF USA sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting that he answer it.
In the letter we explain that the websites of two of the eight manufacturers that the government has approved as suppliers of RFID eartags for U.S. cattle producers do not contain any origin information. You see the government provided the names of these manufacturers in its newly proposed rule to force America’s cattle producers to purchase approximately $30 million in RFID eartags each year.
And so, the letter specifically asks whether any or all of the RFID eartags the government wants to force America’s cattle producers to affix to their U.S.-origin cattle are manufactured in whole or in part on foreign soil.
In other words, we want to know if the government is trying to force U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers to be dependent on foreign countries to lawfully conduct their business operations in the United States. After all, if the mandated eartags can only be manufactured with Chinese electronic computer chips, then China could conceivably put a halt to the interstate movement of American cattle simply by ceasing to provide those computer chips.
This of course would be bad. Now, and very importantly, while I suspect this is what is happening, I do not know yet for certain. But we have to find out. And our suspicion is more than plausible given the government’s earlier efforts to peddle foreign-made RFID eartags to America’s cattlemen and women.
Everyone knows R-CALF USA opposes the proposed RFID eartag mandate, but if America doesn’t manufacture, or doesn’t manufacture enough of these eartags, then consumers and other patriots should be hopping mad as well.
I’ll let you know what we learn from the Agriculture Secretary as soon as we hear back from him.
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R-CALF USA’s weekly opinion/commentary educates and informs both consumers and producers about timely issues important to the U.S. cattle industry and rural America.
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. Visit www.r-calfusa.com or call 406-252-2516 for more information.