TORRINGTON – Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) representatives visited with livestock growers and their families on Nov. 10 as part of their statewide tour.
WSGA and producers exchanged concerns about the industry, and according to WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna, much of the concerns are centered around marketing opportunities and challenges for Wyoming beef.
“A lot of discussion was about the need for processing facilities in the state,” Magagna said. “We need more small facilities in order to cater to the local food movement that people want to buy locally and know where the food comes from. But then we also need some more midsize facilities that would allow us to go out and market Wyoming branded beef, both interstate and to export markets, such as Taiwan and other places.”
Currently, there are roughly 30 processing facilities throughout the state, which is “really low” in terms of ability to process, Magagna said.
In 2019, Wyoming produced about 75,000 head of cattle in feedlots, much of those in Goshen County, which were ready for processing, not including grass fed cattle. About 2,100 head of cattle were processed in Wyoming’s state and federally inspected facilities, he said.
“The opportunity for growth to process more of our Wyoming cattle in Wyoming is huge,” Magagna said.
Magagna said producers also discussed lessening the “big four meat processors” control of the markets. Those processors include Tyson Foods, JBS Beef Co., Cargill Meat Solutions and National Beef.
“They process in excess of 80% of the cattle that are processed in the nation, as well as a lot of the pork and chickens,” Magagna said.
WSGA also works with state and national legislators to influence legislation that affects ag producers.
“We’re an organization that when decision makers at the state level, or our congressional people, are deciding on policy actions that they reach out to us as a starting point,” Magagna said. “So because we’re driven by our membership, being a member and helping develop our policies is how you can really influence the business atmosphere.”
The Goshen County chapter of WSGA currently has 30 members, according to Magagna.
Magagna and others, including WSGA communications intern Maddie Pollart, talked with attendees about increasing involvement in Goshen County and elsewhere. With the changes in ranchers’ and producers’ lifestyles over the years, membership in organizations like WSGA is “dwindling.”
“We’re trying to get out there and trying to motivate young people like me to join these types of organizations,” Pollart said.
The WSGA, according to their website, aims “to serve the livestock business and families of Wyoming by protecting their economic, legislative, regulatory, judicial, environmental, custom and cultural interests.” They carry out this mission by advocating on issues affecting the cattle industry and rural Wyoming in general, providing members with information about events in the cattle industry, the activities of the association and promoting the role of the Wyoming cattle industry in resource stewardship, animal care and the production of high-quality safe and nutritious beef.
WSGA will continue to visit the rest of the state’s producers.
“We selected Goshen County as the first one of those, because it is a very important agricultural county in the state and very important to our industry,” Magagna said.