Op-ed: Coal Mine Canaries Served an Important Purpose

For Immediate Release: June 26, 2024

Contact: R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard

Phone: 406-252-2516; r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com

Below please find an op-ed by R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard regarding the Nevil Speer Opinion:  Speer: Protectionists Plagued By Wool Blindness, published June 5, 2024, in Drovers.

Coal Mine Canaries Served an Important Purpose   

Op-ed by Bill Bullard, CEO, R-CALF USA

In his June 5 opinion in Drovers, “Speer: Protectionists Plagued By Wool Blindness,” Nevil Speer objects to R-CALF USA’s characterization of the U.S. sheep industry as the cattle industry’s canary in the coal mine.

Populated with over a generation’s worth of annual data,  R-CALF USA’s chart reveals that imports have supplanted domestic lamb and mutton production since the early ’90s; and U.S. consumers must now rely mostly on foreign imports to satisfy their appetite for lamb.

I stated that in 2022, about 74 percent of the lamb consumed in America was foreign and that excessive imports have decimated our domestic sheep industry.

I then presented a chart (column 4) showing that cattle and beef imports have more than doubled during the past four decades. Hence, I concluded the sheep industry is the cattle industry’s canary in the coal mine.

But Speer argues that isn’t so and only if my sheep chart had gone back farther in time could the truth be known. So, Speer constructed his own chart to disprove mine.

But his chart fails.

Speer’s chart doesn’t include consumption. Thus, it cannot identify when the market functioned properly – when domestic production was responsive to changes in domestic demand; nor, when market failure occurred – when imports relegated the domestic industry unresponsive to changes in consumer demand.

So, below I’ve added another decade of data to my chart to reinforce what is manifestly true.

Click here to read the full article at R-Calf USA.com.