U.S. Cattlemen’s Association summer meeting tour updates producers on current issues
The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) took advantage of Congress’s annual summer recess to meet with producers in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota to discuss multiple issues of importance the association is currently involved in.
“I’ve been joking with lots of people about the fact that when Congress goes into recess, everyone in Washington D.C. heads for the beach, and I headed for Beach, ND,” noted USCA Executive Vice President Jess Peterson, who was joined by Tait Berlier with tour sponsor Silveus Insurance Group, in meeting with producers at nine total meetings held in eight different livestock auctions.
“Some of the top issues we covered during these meetings included making sure the funding for the proposed GIPSA (Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) rule stays in place. The House gutted the funding, so we are now working to ensure the Senate keeps it in place, and I feel we have a pretty good platform for that,” Peterson explained.
“We’ve also done a lot of clarification for producers on the GIPSA topic, and have been letting guys know exactly what it does and how it will be beneficial to producers,” he continued.
Peterson cited animal identification as another current issue of importance to the USCA, who has been working extensively with the Livestock Marketing Association to get a workable rule in place.
“There is a Cattle ID working group that came up with the ideas presented in the current Animal ID piece of the legislation. There will be a meeting in a couple weeks to further discuss that issue, and at that time we can figure out where we’ll be on it, and make comments and suggestions to USDA.
“I think it’s a common sense, baseline approach that utilizes ID practices already in place like brands and metal tags. They need to clarify some of the different stages they want to kick out, and the implementation on that will be critical and something we watch closely,” noted Peterson of what is expected to come out of the meeting.
“The beef checkoff is another key issue we’ve discussed on this tour. We are strong supporters of the checkoff and know it’s a good program. But, we also know, especially in lieu of recent activities and how the contractor operated, that we need to make sure every dollar is being spent in the best way possible. It’s critical to have oversight of how dollars are spent. So, USCA and the National Farmer’s Union have brought together all the industry groups, and each group gets two representatives who will sit down and talk about what enhancements they want to see in regard to the checkoff,” noted Peterson.
“I’ve been at eight markets on this tour, and these guys come in here and they want to know how their dollars are being spent. This is a huge issue at all levels, and we are fully invested in making sure dollars are being spent right,” he stated.
“When you talk about promoting our country’s beef product, another big part of that is country-of-origin-labeling (COOL). USCA is very committed to winning this WTO (World Trade Organization) fight, regardless of how the Appellate Court rules.
“One thing I’ve been explaining on this tour is that the Appellate Body rules in favor of the majority of cases filed by a plaintiff at the WTO level. This is because they have the mindset that if a plaintiff filed a case, they must have had a big reason to do so. Therefore, they’ll typically rule in their favor, and that’s just how it works. While the odds may currently be against us, it’s very important to have well documented paperwork regarding WTO rules and NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) laws prepared. We’ve done this through bringing legal council on board through Stewart and Stewart Law Offices to ensure we are prepared to continue battling that issue,” said Peterson.
“We are also involved in pushing back on some of the EPA’s regulations, and are very excited to be able to team up with Miss America on fighting against the anti-rhetoric brought against our industry by the Humane Society, and other organizations,” noted Peterson.
He also explained different ways the USCA shares information, and presents it, with both ranchers and politicians on capital hill.
“We’ve hosted three fly-ins this year, which is when a delegation of ranchers from around the country flies to DC to talk about important topics with members of government. We also host a Horn-Wrap call twice a month, where we discuss current issues, and explain different aspects of the more in-depth and comprehensive rules and regulations being proposed at the federal level,” he explained.
“This has been a great trip. It was the largest set of meetings USCA has ever done, and the markets and people have been fantastic. We appreciate the opportunity to meet people, share the issues we’re working on, and hear about additional issues of importance to ranchers in western states,” concluded Peterson.
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