Winning FFA Speech Commends Role Of Livestock Auction Markets
June 20, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The important role livestock auction markets play in helping provide consumers around the world with safe, nutritious food was the focus of an award winning speech by 15-year-old David John Macedo at the 2012 Livestock Marketing Association's annual meeting being held in Modesto, Calif.
Macedo, a high school sophomore from Tulare, Calif., detailed the many positive steps livestock auction markets take to ensure the wellbeing of millions of head of livestock that move through the hundreds of auction markets across the country each year. "Auction markets have long been a part of the livestock industry in helping meet the expectations of buyers and the product quality demands of consumers," Macedo explains. "But there are organizations out there that don't want this important industry to continue, which is why this issue is so important to me and others in this industry who help feed a growing world population."
He adds, "As part of a third-generation livestock operation and auction market, I've seen firsthand the high-quality care livestock receive and the value auction markets play in trading livestock between buyers and sellers. It's a legacy I hope to continue when I get older."
Macedo wrote and delivered the original speech, The Livestock Market Industry – Past Traditions, Present Challenges and Bright Futures Sold on Success, as part of the California FFA public speaking contest, which he won as a freshman. Following is a transcript of the award-winning speech. A video of Macedo giving his speech at the 2012 Livestock Marking Association's annual meeting can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GglPGgRhqtI&feature=g-upl.
About the Livestock Marketing Association:
Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, is North America's largest membership organization dedicated to supporting, representing and communicating with and for the entire livestock marketing sector. LMA has approximately 800 member businesses across the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.lmaweb.com.
Transcript of David Macedo's Speech
The Livestock Market Industry:
Past Traditions, Present Challenges, and Bright Futures Sold on Success
The gates open and the cattle are paraded around the auction ring. The buyers are on the edge of their seats ready to give a nod, wave a card, or make a hand gesture so the auctioneer can catch their bids on the livestock that best fit their needs. The auctioneer breaks into his chant, (Chant) and the competition between buyers is evident. (Chant) The auctioneer scans the crowd one last time (Chant), the final bid is placed, the auctioneer announces "(Sold)" to complete the transaction, and it is on to the next lot.
Livestock auctions have long been a part of the cattle industry. They provide cattlemen and dairymen a reliable and competitive place to market their livestock. Markets across the nation are open daily, attracting buyers for all classes of livestock. Livestock markets are a key part of the cattle industry; they are the public face of the ever-changing cattle business. Markets are where sellers go to find and share information on current and future cattle prices. They also learn about issues that face the industry today and gain insight into buyers' cattle quality expectations and consumers' end product demands. My father has always said that livestock markets have been the cattle industry information super highway decades before there was technology, such as the internet.
My family has owned and operated a livestock market located in Tulare, California, since the 1930s, beginning with my great grandfather. This family tradition has been carried on through three generations and I hope one day to continue the legacy. Over the last seventy plus years, the manner in which livestock are traded at our market has stayed true to tradition by fully representing cattle and encouraging competitive bidding to secure the highest value for the cattle being sold. Cattle handling, however, has changed dramatically as a result of a growing population that is far removed from agriculture. Many people have no first-hand farm experiences. This lack of understanding results in sensational and unfair criticism of production agriculture.
We have all seen the ads on T.V. showing the mistreatment of animals. These commercials use the public's emotions to raise money to combat animal cruelty. We would all agree that animals are an important part of our lives in modern-day society and must be treated humanely. However, these ads are geared to portray the livestock industry in a negative light and influence public perception. The Humane Society of the United States, also known as HSUS, produces and sponsors these ads. With a membership of over eleven million Americans strong, HSUS is only one of many animal rights activist groups whose primary aim is to cripple production agriculture. HSUS alone has accumulated over 187 million dollars in assets and built a recognizable brand by capitalizing on the confusion its very name provokes. This misdirection results in an irony of which most animal lovers are unaware: HSUS raised enough money to finance every struggling animal shelter in every state; however, according to their 2010 tax return, it contributed less than one percent of HSUS's budget to shelters while spending over 126 million dollars on fundraising, lobbying, staff salaries, and benefit packages (2010 HSUS Form 990). This group, along with its partner affiliations, has been very successful at using emotion to influence Americans. The most current HSUS tactic is promoting "Meatless Mondays" in 2012, which uses celebrity endorsements and blames production agriculture for environmental degradation, trademarks of their propaganda (Animal Agriculture Alliance).
We in the livestock industry have progressed and adapted to meet animal welfare regulations. Safe, innovative practices are used to house, feed, breed, and handle our livestock (Beef Quality Assurance). At our market, we hold seminars on proper handling techniques and what types of livestock should be sold and when. The Livestock Market Association of North America has sent out handbooks and videos to every market on the rules, regulations, and guidelines to proper animal management (Livestock Marketing Association). At our market, we like to be proactive and progressive in the industry. Over the last twenty years, we have continued to invest in our facility to make it more comfortable and safe for both the livestock and our employees.
Being the public face of the industry, we at the markets must and will continue to listen to the consumer. Food safety in all its forms is of upmost importance; consumers want to know how we have handled animals from farm to fork. Markets play an important role in educating a consumer population that is far removed from agriculture. For example, to combat HSUS's claims that committing to Meatless Mondays would improve your health and help you lose weight, we at our market are making available low calorie, healthful beef recipes. Serving as a public face between farm to fork, livestock markets bridge the gap.
It is prudent that those of us in the livestock industry properly care for our animals and stand by our responsibility to feed an ever-growing world. My grandfather says it takes one person to mess up and we all pay the price. I absolutely agree! Unfortunately, there will always be insolent people in our society who don't care and would rather sit back and watch others be progressive. So it is up to us in the livestock industry to do our best to overshadow industry burdens with outstanding cattle handling practices.
I believe in competitive marketing and enjoy the quick-paced business transactions that are common at an auction market. In order for there to be a future for me in the livestock auction market business, I must be vigilant and serve as an advocate and guardian of an industry that has been a long-standing family tradition. My future in this industry starts today. By training hard and learning the important tasks that are part of a daily routine at our market, I will one day be the successful businessman I have always dreamed of becoming.
As the day comes to an end, the market gates are shut and latched, the paperwork complete. The whistles and calls of haulers loading out the cattle reverberate throughout the night to begin another day. As the sun sets on today, the rays of a bright future shine on tomorrow with the promise of success for the livestock industry and me.
- Source: Drover's Cattle Network
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