Brett Kenzy, Gregory, S.D., recently stacked about 45 haybales along state Highway 47 in front of the farm and feedlot that he and his brother George operate.
Gracie, Brett’s oldest child, grabbed a can of white spray paint and began drawing outlines of letters on each of the bales. Then her younger siblings and cousins filled in the letters with different spray paint colors.
Within an hour, passersby could clearly read “#DemandUSABeef” painted in red, white and blue across the hay bales. They topped the sign off by erecting a flagpole in the center of the bales and flying the American flag from it. As they finished, a semitruck went by and the driver honked the truck’s horn.
“See, it is already working,” Brett said.
The Kenzys are trying to let consumers know that U.S. cattle producers need mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) to regain fair markets and survive. MCOOL would help consumers tell the difference between U.S. beef from imported beef in the meat case, something that isn’t possible now due to a loophole in labeling laws that allows imported meat that is packaged in the U.S. to be labeled with as “Made in the USA” or “Product of the USA.”
Unless consumers are able to choose U.S. beef, American cattle producers are not able to compete, Brett said.
“Sure, American beef is a little more expensive. But that is because we raise a safe product and we take care of the land,” he said.
Like many other cattle producers, the Kenzys have invested in an extensive nutrient management system. They also no-till and use many other conservation and soil building practices.
The Kenzy family has a long history of ag advocacy. Brett and George’s father and uncle participated in the 1979 Tractorcade in Washington, D.C., to protest for price parity.
Brett and George have lobbied state and federal lawmakers and testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry about the need for MCOOL.
The brothers urge other cattle producers to put up their own #DemandUSABeef signs. They teamed up with Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America and South Dakota Farmers Union to promote the idea
Through Aug.18, each farmer or rancher who posts a photo of their #DemandUSABeef sign to SDFU’s Facebook page will be entered in a drawing to win $250 and free registration to the R-CALF annual convention in Deadwood, S.D., which will be held Aug. 20-21.
“Advocating for our business is up to us,” Brett said. “We are as responsible for this as much as we are responsible for getting corn planted and cattle fed.”
Roti writes from Sioux Falls, S.D.