NCBA official highlights proposals
In a recent Beltway Beef podcast dated April 7, Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane provides an update on the work being done by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).
During the podcast he discusses the latest legislative and regulatory proposals and encouraged members to engage in conversations with elected officials.
Representing the industry
“We start and end every week around here with the same objective, to never giving up fighting for producers,” says Lane. “The goals to defend producers is everchanging, because so is Washington. As much as we would like to set the agenda, we are typically responding to a lot of other people’s agendas.”
“It’s an election year, and this always means sort of a bad idea factory here in Washington,” he says. “We’re going to spend a lot of time over the next few months educating folks on Capitol Hill about what producers really need to be successful, what they need to make sure this industry continues to grow and what would be damaging to those producers around the country.”
Several topics of discussion will include: improving processing capacity, defending the cattle industry in light of inflation and the budget and appropriations process, he mentions.
“It’s really important to separate the rhetoric from the reality,” he says. “There’s a lot of good information out there, but there is also a lot of untrustworthy information. It’s really easy for folks in politics to manipulate public opinion with bad information using social media.”
Lane encourages producers to look for fact-based information.
the A-PLUS Act
On April 7, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) sponsored the Amplifying Processing of Livestock in the U.S. (A-PLUS) Act. The legislation would clarify the Packers and Stockyards Act to allow livestock market owners to open and operate small meatpacking plants with a slaughter capacity of less than 2,000 head per day or 700,000 head per year.
“When we look at the changes in this law since it was last visited – this is a 100-year-old law, which at the time was a really good one – to prevent these big stockyards from also owning packing plants,” Lane explains. “This model has changed over the years, and now these sale barns are really an obvious place to start looking for ownership, partial ownership or interest in some of these new, small regional packing facilities the industry is contemplating all over the country.”
Lane notes it’s important laws stay updated to reflect the state of the industry and current times, but the A-PLUS Act is being well received by the cattle industry.
“Obviously we don’t want big packers owning big marketing entities, but this act is focused on small, regional entities and areas where we can really make a difference in rural communities needing further processing capacity.”
Another issue NCBA will continue to be involved with is the American Prairie Reserve (APR). Established in 2004, APR is a non-profit effort to create the largest wildlife reserve in the U.S. by linking together more than three million acres of private and public lands on Montana’s Northern Great Plains.
“APR is something we can never seem to get rid of,” notes Lane. “They want to use grazing permits as justification of breaking the rules we otherwise follow as livestock producers grazing on those same lands. What they want to do is have bison both ways, as livestock, but they want them to be wildlife as well,” he explains.
On March 31, the Bureau of Land Management gave the initial approval to a proposal to graze bison in north-central Montana. The latest decision would allow bison to graze seasonally in three locations and year-round in three others – including two already approved for bison. The seventh location would remain open to cattle only.
“We are not done yet, we have a big fight ahead of us,” says Lane. “It opens up some good opportunity for us to look at our legal options and the path forward.”
At the end of the day there is a real opportunity in regards to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) definition of Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, explains Lane.
“The Supreme Court is going to hear this case, and NCBA plans to be involved,” he says. “EPA needs a reminder they don’t get to make a unilateral decision – they have an entire court system and the American people who simply don’t want to give up their property rights.”
“It’s a dangerous process, and it could result in a problematic situation for producers, and it’s why we push back so hard,” he adds. “There is no better advocate than our producers on the ground. The best lobbyists in the country are ranchers willing to take five minutes and write a letter, send an e-mail or make a phone call.”
Lane encourages producers to get involved in grassroot issues every chance they get, whether they attend a local meeting or get a hold of a member of Congress.
“I guarantee they are hearing from people all day long – it’s critical we take those opportunities,” concludes Lane.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.