Cattlemen gather in Kearney
December 14, 2017
Kearney — The Younness Convention Center, Kearney, Nebraska saw over 600 registered for the annual year end Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) convention last week. Trade show, committee meetings, awards, national updates and passing the reins of leadership were all part of the year ending gathering. This year's views of producers were optimistic as beef prices had climbed from last year.
Tuesday, Dec. 5 was the pre-conference 'Cattlemen's College' held for the first time at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds. A full day of classroom speakers covered topics including the transition between generations, the Beef Quality Audit, antibiotic stewardship and National Cattlemen updates among others.
Wednesday, the convention kicked off with the 2016 Young cattlemen's Round Table, where attendees could be inspired, be impacted and learn to get involved. The 2016 Young Cattlemen's Conference (YCC) class hosted the noon session. Members of the 2016 class include Jentry Cain, Heidi Pieper, Kelly Torrell, Tricia Goes, Kenny Stauffer, Reiss L. Bruning, Bradley Christensen, Gus Petersen, Adam Guenther, Doug Smith Ph.D. The YCC, selected from an application process, selects ten young producers to attend sessions that will help deliver a solid foundation of industry knowledge to them, thus helping impact the future and maintain Nebraska beef as a global commodity. The 2017 class includes Kate Benjamin, Kat White, Tabbatha Cornelius, Erin Laborie, Troy Carruthers, Andy Reigle, Heath Weichel, Alex Heine, Jacob Hopwood, Steve Fish.
Thursday, the committee meetings began with the joint committees of Education and Research along with Taxation having a full house. Laura Field, NC vice-president of legislative affairs recapped the 2016 Unicameral session and gave her thoughts on the 2018 sixty-day session to begin Jan. 3.
Property tax relief is the primary issue for this year's session as in the past. Ideas for reform include:
• to decrease or cap ag valuations of real property
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• increase and protect property tax credit relief fund
• shift or modify existing revenues to bring tax reduction
• spending controls and
• modification to school funding lowering property tax dollars while still ensuring quality education for Nebraska's students age 5 to 21.
Field recapped that LB461 which would change property tax from valuation to productivity remains on general file and could be brought back in the 2018 session. As in the past no clear solution for ag producers which are the minority in the state funding the majority of taxes was offered. Tom Bergquist, the Nebraska legislative fiscal officer showed the statistics of school funding and Scott Peterson, lawyer from Valentine, who is on the Federal Tax Reform committee gave update on tax reform from that level. After discussion, the two committees broke into their separate committees to review and update their policies.
In the Animal Health and Nutrition committee, members after visiting with producers, feedlots and others, compiled from some 30,000 pages, a single page, two-sided document on 'Planning for the Unthinkable.' NC vice-president of member services, Melody Benjamin from Lakeside was instrumental in this monumental task of condensing and completing this. From health issues such as Foot and Mouth, to natural disasters such as tornadoes, every producer is encouraged to follow the guidelines offered and develop a plan.
"The state is already dealing in some extent, to the unthinkable that is happening with our neighboring state of South Dakota with their tuberculosis findings. Nebraska has traced cattle from that state into ours, but it is contained thus far in Nebraska. From the first index herd, 284 traces in 12 states dealing with 10,249 head of cattle took place. The latest outbreak in October is in Tripp county," said Dr. Dennis Hughes, DVM, Nebraska State Veterinarian.
Dr. Hughes is on a national forum with seventeen other members to develop a national Animal Disease Traceability (ADT). He explained the process they have been doing, to get to the goal of electronic individual identification devices by 2023. Of high importance, all veterinarians need to adopt electronic, mobile interstate certificates of veterinary inspections (ICVI), "the sooner the better, trying to read the handwriting of some of the vets that comes through our office is daunting to say the least."
In the Brand and Property Rights committee meeting, Senator Carol Blood, Nebraska legislative District 3 from Bellevue discussed her proposed bill she will be introducing this session on drones – she has had input from several groups including the FAA. She feels it is not over-regulation, but is needed to assure property owners have a legal avenue against unwanted intrusion by drones over their property.
Also in this committee, chairman, John Widdowson gave an update from the Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC) which he is the technological chairman of the NBC. Last year, the NBC unveiled the working contract with Nebraska Interactive (NI) that would transform the 75 years of collecting brand inspection fees from paper to the digital age. NI is the service that allows online renewals in the DVM and many other Nebraska government agencies. As for the NBC, "It has and continues to be a work in progress," he said.
He introduced Danna Schwenk, the project manager that is overseeing the transition of paper to electronic, which includes educating not only the five-person NBC staff, but the 100 inspectors that will use their mobile devices to accept credit or debit cards, scan checks for ACH on the spot. Cash will be allowed as it is legal U.S. tenure, but to avoid loss payments in the mail, electronic payments will be encouraged. The payment is the second phase or 'On the Go' payment process. Phase 1 is deemed the NBC Admin, and includes the networking of the office computers to each other (which has not been done previous), enhancing the office internet service and allowing voicemail, which as of this week, is now possible for the first time in the NBC office. As of Dec. 1, two inspectors are 'test driving' the 'On the Go' system in the Bridgeport and Alliance areas. After the convention ended, while still in Kearney, Schwenk had set up training sessions for inspectors to add them to the "On the Go" payment process and inspection.
Other committee meetings held included the Marketing and Commerce and the Natural Resources and Environment. The ladies held their Nebraska Cattlewomen (NCW) Consumer Promotion and Education meeting on Thursday afternoon, as well.
The convention concluded Friday with the market outlook given by NC market reporting service staff, Jeff Stolle and John Roberts prior to the annual business meeting. The annual meeting included the council reports as well as the committee reports, and the adoption of any recommendations/corrections to the policies from those committees. Troy Stowater, Wayne, NE, 2017 NC president, passed the gavel for 2018 to NC's new president, Galen Frenzen. Fullerton. President Elect is Mike Drinnin, Clarks. Stowater becomes head of the nomination committee. F