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NCBA discusses priorities

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

During the second day of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association Winter Roundup Convention and Trade Show, held in Casper Dec. 4-6, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Chief Executive Officer Colin Woodall gave a presentation on the state of the beef industry. 

To begin, Woodall noted despite continuous attacks from anti-agriculture activists and stubborn lawmakers, cattle producers continue to make strides. 

Woodall concluded his discussion by sharing NCBA’s priorities for the new farm bill and current challenges faced in the beef industry.

Foreign animal disease

“We have several high priorities at NCBA, but our top priority is the foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank, which is something we were able to get placed in the 2018 Farm Bill,” Woodall began. 

“This is another tool to help protect ourselves from what I believe is the eventual reintroduction of FMD,” he added. “I believe it is a matter of when we get it, not if we get it, and we need to be prepared.” 

Woodall noted the vaccine bank is just one piece of NCBA’s preparedness initiative for foreign animal disease. 

He shared NCBA is also building relations with the White House and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), since food security was officially deemed a national security issue nearly a year ago. 

“This designation opened up the opportunity to deal with people in the federal government who we historically have not had the opportunity to engage with – the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Council, the Department of Defense and DHS,” Woodall said.

“We are also working very closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to make sure their inspectors understand their role at every port of entry and airport to ensure we are ever vigilant in keeping FMD and other foreign diseases out,” he continued. 

Naturally, this topic of discussion also brings up the issue of foreign trade, especially since President Joe Biden recently announced his intent to open doors to the U.S. beef market to Paraguay, a country that continues seeing cases of FMD. 

“NCBA is firmly and unequivocally against this, and we have made it clear,” Woodall said. “In fact, we have legislation introduced in Congress to push back and fight this because Paraguay still has a problem with FMD.” 

“As many of you know, if FMD came to the U.S., it would enforce a 72-hour shutdown of all cattle, and we would lose all of our international markets,” Woodall further explained. “Our markets would crash and it would be an absolute disaster.” 

In response, he shared NCBA has also made voluntary traceability one of their priorities. 

“We are not talking mandatory traceability, I want to make that very clear,” he said. “But, we believe, in the event of a foreign disease outbreak – FMD being a great example – those who have traceable herds will be able to get into the stream of commerce more quickly than those who don’t. To some extent it is a bit of an insurance program to make sure we are prepared.” 

Conservation and risk management programs

Another priority for NCBA, according to Woodall, is to ensure voluntary conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program – the most popular program among cattle producers – and risk management programs, like the Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) program, remain strong. 

“We had a bit of a fire drill when there were some rumors in the marketplace the underwriters of these particular policies were insolvent or on the verge of going insolvent, which caused a lot of concern,” Woodall shared. 

He continued, “They made it very clear they have the reserves they need in the case of a market situation that is five or tenfold of what we saw the past couple of weeks, we have the backing to ensure those policies will be made whole.” 

Woodall further noted although LRP is not part of the farm bill, the farm bill as a whole can be used as an opportunity to elevate the program and ensure Congress pays attention to things such as the solvency of the underwriters. 

“We need to make sure those programs are not raided to fund other programs,” he concluded. 

Defending the checkoff 

Following his discussion of NCBA farm bill priorities, Woodall shared a few of the association’s concerns regarding current and future challenges the beef industry will face. 

At the top of the list is the attack on the Beef Checkoff through the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). 

“The checkoff has been very successful at keeping demand high and building more demand while doing research and promotion to ensure we have a very productive and viable industry, which is counter to what animal activists want to see,” Woodall explained. “They are attacking the checkoff because they don’t like the success of the program.” 

Woodall noted of the donations received by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in the name of charity, only two percent are actually used where they say they will be. 

Instead, ASPCA has nearly $11 million in offshore Caribbean accounts, which goes toward their political agenda and is in line with the Humane Society of the U.S., the association leading the charge on the OFF Act.

Woodall further noted ASPCA is leading a group of 40 animal activist groups who have stated they believe the farm bill is “the best opportunity for wholesale change to ag policy,” which will ultimately hurt agriculture. 

However, Woodall reassured meeting attendees the outlook isn’t all bad. 

“Our research shows when consumers are asked about their preferred source of protein, we are at the top of the list,” he stated. “This is thanks to the work the checkoff does through promotion and research, and as a contractor of the checkoff, we are going to defend off all of the attacks on the farm bill.” 

Protecting public lands ranching

Another concern for NCBA is the current attack on public lands ranching, which, Woodall noted, is a reason NCBA was one of the founding members of the Public Lands Council.

He nodded to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to recognize conservation as a multiple use. 

“Bringing in conservation as a multiple use and allowing other uses only if they are compatible with conservation is concerning because the definition of conservation in this rule is protection and restoration, not active management,” Woodall said. 

He noted, under this definition, organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity and the Western Watersheds Project will argue cattle production isn’t considered conservation.

“It will just be another rash of lawsuits we have to fight back against,” he admitted. 

But, Woodall continued, “We are the kings of conservation, especially when it comes to public lands access and grazing and the role we play in things such as fire suppression and overall rangeland health. These public lands fights will continue, and NCBA will remain at the helm to make sure we are protecting all of your rights.” 

To read about the first half of Woodall’s presentation, look back on the Dec. 9 edition of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup or visit

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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