U.S. cattlemen complete D.C. Fly-In
Members of the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) participated in a Washington, D.C. fly-in July 8 – 11. Twenty-seven ranchers representing Arkansas, California, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming participated. Fly-in events began on the evening of July 8, with a reception held in conjunction with the National Propane Gas Association, followed by two days of meetings on Capitol Hill with staff and congressional members and with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Discussion topics included the fiscal year 2015 appropriations process. Fly-in participants urged their respective state delegations to oppose any inclusion of language in spending measures that would weaken or repeal country of origin labeling (COOL). They encouraged policy-makers not to intervene in COOL and to allow the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panel to release its final report on compliance issues raised by Canada and Mexico. Of note throughout the fly-in was the issue of Argentina’s and Brazil’s ongoing efforts to gain access to U.S. markets. Given the serious animal health concerns regarding Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and its continued presence in South America, USCA members expressed their opposition to the import of fresh or chilled meat products from either country as recently announced in two separate proposed rules published in the Federal Register. The proposed regionalization of 14 states in Brazil and the region of Patagonia in Argentina is of great concern to U.S. cattle producers. USCA will continue to address this issue both in Congress and with the Obama Administration to ensure the overall health of the domestic herd is not compromised.
Fly-in participants expressed their gratitude to Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael T. Scuse and his staff for their efforts to implement disaster assistance for those affected by Winter Storm Atlas in October 2013.
USCA members met with EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner and her staff to outline concerns with the agency’s proposed interpretive rule, which would change defining provisions of the Clean Water Act regarding Waters of the U.S. Fly-in participants expressed their opposition to the overreaching nature of the rule and their concerns with the continued disconnect between state and federal implementation, enforcement and translation of the rule. USCA members also met with USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment Ann Mill regarding the proposed changes to the Waters of the U.S. rule and the impact the rule will have on the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). USCA remains an engaged stakeholder on this issue and will continue to review and discuss comments to be issued by Oct. 20, 2014.
USCA members also met with USDA Under Secretary Ed Avalos and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) staff regarding the ongoing implementation of a national animal identification program as well as continuing efforts by Argentina to change its international trade status with the U.S. USCA remains opposed to allowing the import of meat products from Argentina due to foot and mouth disease (FMD) risks.
Other focus issues included passage of a “clean” H.R. 4572, the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) Reauthorization Act of 2014, which will help provide continued access to local news and broadcast services in rural regions.
“This was a very successful fly-in,” noted Jon Wooster, USCA President, San Lucas, California. “USCA members spent their time in Washington, D.C. participating in an intense schedule of meetings and effectively advanced the interests of their industry with lawmakers and agency officials. USCA enjoys a very engaged membership that understands how important it is to carry our message to Capitol Hill. I want to thank everyone who participated in and supported this event.”