Cattle Convention: Industry conventions draws national leadership
Cheyenne – During the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, hosted by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association in Cheyenne during June 5-8, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Scott George and American National CattleWomen (ANCW) President Barbara Jackson attended, speaking on the national issues that the agriculture industry is currently facing.
“This year at our convention, our policy division said we have five priorities,” commented George, marking the EPA, the ADUFA Act, the Farm Bill, immigration policy and trade.
The Farm Bill has been a top priority for NCBA this year.
“We thought we had the Farm Bill taken care of last year, and instead of finishing it, they let it expire,” said George. “We’ve been working hard on it in D.C.”
George noted that the organization has been working closely with Senator Deb Stabenow, the Senate Agriculture Committee chair.
During the week of June 3, the bill progressed to the Senate floor. The Senate will vote on the bill on June 10.
In the Farm Bill, George noted that conservation programs, disaster assistance and research are paramount.
“Conservation programs are important because, with decreasing water supplies, we need every program available that we can,” he explained. “We also need the safety net of disaster assistance.”
Finally, George mentioned that, with the increasing world population and the need to produce more food than ever before, increased research is necessary and should be funded.
Another priority, ADUFA, or the Animal Drug User Fee Act, was reauthorized without major amendments. ADUFA allows the FDA to collect fees from pharmaceutical companies to support testing and approval of new drugs.
“Our challenge has been that the activist groups have come out of the woodwork to try and stop the act,” George noted. “In the last week, it passed the House and Senate and is headed to the President’s desk for his signature.”
Border security and immigration
A hotly debated issue, immigration policy, is also a hot topic for NCBA.
Because of uncontrolled entry of illegal immigrants across borders in the southern U.S., agriculture producers fear for, and have even lost, their lives, said George.
Exacerbating the problem, George said, “We believe the border needs to be secure. There are federal lands that do not allow the border patrol to use motorized vehicles. As a result, federal lands have become superhighways where everyone comes through.”
Part of the problem, he continued, is the lack of viable work programs to allow immigrants to work legally in the U.S.
“We’ve been working on an agriculture guest worker program under the Department of Agriculture instead of the Department of Labor, and we are hoping that will help be a part of the solution,” said George.
Trade and sustainability
The ability of the U.S. to continue trade and export is also very important.
“Trade negotiations are really problematic,” said George, specifically mentioning Russia’s retaliatory ban on ractopamine after U.S. comments based on human rights issues. “Exports add value to our animals.”
To proactively attempt to establish a set of standards for international trade, George commented that NCBA is involved in the Five Nations Beef Alliance, a group of producers from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and the U.S.
“These are producers who meet to try to talk about trade issues,” explained George. “They face the same challenges and issues that we do, and we talk to try to establish sound scientific standards worldwide so we can compete on an even basis.”
All parties work with their leaders who all bring the same standards to trade negotiations, easing trade negotiations and ensuring producers are involved in international agreements.
George also mentioned that the NCBA is working to fund a variety of studies based on sustainability to demonstrate the progress the beef industry has made and provide data.
The organization is also working to build partnerships and educate others around the country.
“I want you to now that NCBA cares about you,” added George as a final note. “We are trying to help the consumer eating the beef we producer and to trying to help you keep producing the beef you love.”
“It’s an honor to serve the ANCW,” commented President Jackson. “The CattleWomen have three real areas of focus: beef promotion, youth development and legislation.”
Promotion has been a focus of the organization for a number of years.
“We’ve been doing promotion for forever,” commented Jackson. “We work closely with the beef councils anywhere from retail promotion to cooking shows.”
“We are really proud of our youth development programs,” said Jackson. “We are giving them information and they are going into industry, blogging, tweeting and YouTubing.”
As a result, ANCW engages consumers at all levels, and the millennial consumers are involved the conversations.
Legislatively, she notes that the ANCW partners with NCBA to accomplish the same goals.
“We follow their lead and help with our influence,” she said. “We are there with ADUFA, and we are talking about EPA.”
Despite the challenge in agriculture, Jackson noted they continue to move forward.
“The challenges continue to grow, whether it is with government interference, weather, drought or competing markets,” she said. “The Wyoming CattleWomen have been here with us the whole way.”
Both Jackson and Scott noted that Wyoming’s support of both NCBA and ANCW have helped to move agriculture in the right direction.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.