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To the Editor,

As a beef producer-volunteer at the national level, I hear a lot of things, and lately, a lot of things I hear are just plain wrong. I’m writing this in an effort to help correct some of the misinformation that’s swirling among cattlemen and women and hopefully prevent us from making mistakes with an important program that was approved and is still widely supported by beef producers. That program is the beef checkoff, and it has been under fire lately for reasons that aren’t being fairly or accurately portrayed by a minority in our community.

First, let me explain that the beef checkoff and the Federation of State Beef Councils (Federation) is us, and when I say us, I mean each cattleman and cattlewoman in every state with a qualified state beef council. In my case, I am a beef producer and lover of all things beef and cattle. I am a daughter, wife, mom and off-the-farm employee. And, with my husband, I am the co-owner and operator of a relatively small cow/calf operation that feels the hurt when prices drop and lifestyle changes become mandatory. That’s me and that’s us, both as a family and as a community. We feel these things together and that’s why I take the attacks on state beef councils and the checkoff personally.

The Federation is an organization of people, and those people have cow/calf operations, feedlots and farms. We raise seedstock, background calves and so on. But we all share one commonality – our love of cattle, beef and this way of life. We need to spend a little more time thinking about the things that unite us and a little less time concentrating on that which is dividing us, if we hope to pass this life and passion on to those who come after us. 

To do that, I want to share a few of the things that I genuinely appreciate about the beef checkoff and particularly, the 50 cents that remain under the guidance of state beef councils in every qualified state.

First, I live in a state where cattle outnumber people four-to-one. The Federation of State Beef Councils offers an extremely efficient method of ensuring that our funds reach the population that needs to hear our messages about beef.

Second, as a producer-volunteer sitting on the Federation Board of Directors, I get to work alongside producer-volunteers from across the country to study how our investments can be directed to the most impactful programs.

Finally, each state beef council has access to materials and information that allow every state-directed program, from advertising to producer communications, to maximize their resources. The advertising and program materials are available in multiple formats, and I might add, they are outstanding.

  We’ve gained great momentum because of muscle profiling studies, identification and promotion of new methods of cookery and research programs such as Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) and countless others. What if those went away and we lost the opportunity to attract new consumers to our product? What would that mean for the future of my ranch?

  As I think about some of the positive things I appreciate about the checkoff and the Federation, I’m also struck by the potential impacts if states, particularly mine, were to lose these investments in our livelihoods and our futures. Right now, the preference for beef’s taste is as high as it has ever been. What if we didn’t continue to capitalize on that fact and instead we lost beef demand as a result? What would the market look like when my children want to step back into the operation? 

Foreign markets contribute a significant and growing return to the bottom line of every operation in the United States. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) estimates that the return is $270 per head to every one of the fed animals in this country and I firmly believe that money is passed back through the chain in the form of higher calf prices. What if we lose the ability to work with USMEF and the returns for beef went away, what would that mean to the profitability of my ranch when we sell calves in the fall? 

When times are hard, it’s easy to look for someone or something to blame, but as cattlemen and cattlewomen, we ought to be better than that. We know that hard times come and go, but we get through them by helping one another and working together, not by tearing one another apart. That’s what we should be working on now. Rather than blame and tossing out the checkoff, let’s work together and build a better future for beef and our families.

Sincerely,

Dawn Caldwell

Nebraska Beef Producer

Federation of State Beef Councils Vice Chair

To the Editor:

By now, you’ve probably seen that there’s a determined effort by activist organizations to undermine the beef industry. Groups like Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Public Justice are attempting to change the way we do business, and they’ve banded together with groups like R-CALF and other like-minded organizations to target state beef councils and their work to promote beef.

We might disagree on policy matters within the industry, but it’s another thing entirely to target the volunteer-led state beef councils through unholy alliances with animal rights activists and others intent on driving beef producers out of business.

You read that correctly. R-CALF and like-minded groups have joined with activist organizations like Public Justice. In this case, the Public Justice/R-CALF alliance is litigating a case against the Montana Beef Council. We’ve seen this trend increase lately. It was first begun by HSUS activists who used their deep pockets to buy influence in the beef industry and gain standing to file lawsuits against the checkoff in an all-out effort to end beef promotion, and ultimately, the production of beef in the United States.

HSUS, Public Justice, R-CALF and others have been unsuccessful in the halls of Congress, and they aren’t making progress among consumers or beef producers at the ballot box, so they’re spending their time and money to perpetuate misinformation and engage in a guerilla campaign against beef and the checkoff. They know ending the checkoff eliminates the only self-help program designed and led by beef producers and they know that’s all that stands between them and more meatless diets.

We must work together to stop HSUS, Public Justice and their collaborators. We must stand together to prevent these activists from pushing cattle off the land, sliding beef off the plate and driving cattle producers off the ranch. Don’t believe everything you read. This fight is about stopping the activists from achieving those goals. And that’s all it’s about.   

I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it again so it’s clear. HSUS does not care about beef producers or the checkoff. They care about stopping the production and consumption of meat. Every member of the beef community who collaborates with this group, for any reason, is helping them achieve that goal. They will stop at nothing to change your way of life, drive beef producers out of business and irreparably harm the social and economic fabric of rural America.

HSUS, Public Justice and their armies of urban lawyers would love nothing more than to remove beef from the plates of consumers. These activists are working to drive good cattlemen and cattlewomen out of business by promoting a meatless agenda. Visit bit.ly/2vCBzwP and bit.ly/2uDNeyb for examples. And, they’ve joined forces with some of your neighbors who have sold out and are helping them to accomplish that goal.

We need to stand together and shine a light on these alliances between R-CALF and their activist partners at Public Justice and elsewhere. These shams must be exposed for what they really are. It’s time to stand together to stop the attacks, misinformation and propaganda. It’s not in our nature to challenge our friends and neighbors, but there’s too much at stake to continue in silence.

Sincerely,

Kendal Frazier

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO

Editor’s Note: Acting BLM Director Michael Nedd wrote this letter on July 3, seeking input from public lands stakeholders for both land use planning and environmental reviews.

To Stakeholders in America’s Public Lands:

I write to you today to ask for your ideas.  

The President and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke have asked the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to take a new, in-depth look into our land use planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes.  As someone who cares about the nation’s public lands, your input is vital to determining how the BLM will approach land use planning going forward. 

Our goal is to identify inefficiencies and redundancies that should be eliminated from our land use planning and NEPA processes, while ensuring that we fulfill our legal and resource stewardship responsibilities. By doing this, we will be able to dedicate more time and resources to completing the important on-the-ground work on our public lands.  

Balanced stewardship of the public lands and resources is more important to the interests of the country and its people than ever before. This mission is also more complex and challenging than at any time in our history. But with your input, we can strike that balance.  

We are opening a 21-day period, beginning on July 3 and ending on July 24, in which you can submit your ideas specific to how we can make the BLM’s planning procedures and environmental reviews timelier and less costly, as well as responsive to local needs. This streamlining effort will help shape how we move forward. You can submit your input by going to goo.gl/CYxqM5.

The decisions made in land use plans and after NEPA analyses are fundamental to how BLM public lands and resources are used for the benefit of all Americans. We are committed to working cooperatively with state and local governments, communities, Indian tribes, and other stakeholders to determine the best ways to manage public lands for multiple uses and values, both now and in the future.

This effort is not required under any laws or regulations. We are doing this because we strongly believe that public input, especially at the local level, is an essential component of federal land management. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, 

Michael Nedd

Acting BLM Director

To the Editor:

On May 15, a parcel package was delivered to our farm by FedEx from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) containing a letter and a copy of the Corps’ Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) and their intention to acquire our property to permanently store dredged materials.

Our 298-acre contiguous, irrigated, prime farm land would become a permanent placement site for dredged material from the Mississippi River. Our fertile and tillable farm ground would be ruined forever if this plan goes through. After a 40-year period, this land would be covered with 7.1 million cubic yards of dredged material at a minimum of 15 feet high.

The Drysdale Farm has been in existence for 78 years as a diversified farm business. My family is in full disagreement with the Corps acquisition of our property. This land has been our livelihood all our life. There are hundreds of acres of unproductive land, owned by government agencies, in much closer proximity to the dredging site that could be used, rather than using valuable farm land to place this dredged material. I am a third-generation farmer and Angus producer on this land. My daughter, who is fourth generation, needs this land to continue her cattle operation.

They don’t make land anymore.

In 1965, the Zumbro River flooded this property, my grandfather and father removed thousands of yards of sand from the very field that the Corps would like to acquire from us.

In 1970, a new dike was built by the Corps to stop flooding of our property and that of neighboring properties in Greenfield Township. The Corps built the dike to save our farm and our neighboring farms. Now, they want to cover the 298 acres with dredged sand.

The outcome of this plan will be a permanent loss of our income and livelihood. If the Corps plans to go forward with the DMMP on Lower Pool Four, this will devastate our economy. There will be a loss of tax base in Greenfield Township, Wabasha County and the state of Minnesota. Our local and regional farm and feed stores, agronomy sites, vet clinics, implement stores and several other dealerships will be affected by this acquisition.

This detailed plan not only affects us and our neighbors but also two other farm producers in the state of Wisconsin. We are working together to save what belongs to us.

We are asking you, as producers and care takers of the land, to please send in comments by June 23 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, please email your U.S. senators. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) can be reached at daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) can be reached at tester.senate.gov/?p=email_senator. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) can be contacted at enzi.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-senator-enzi, and Sen. John Barrasso can  be reached at barrasso.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form.

Please help us change this plan for the future of agriculture.

Sincerely,

Willard S. Drysdale

Greenfield, Wisc.