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Agriculture Today

Cattlemen wrap up successful ‘Ranchers Wrangling the Recession’ fly-in

Cattlemen wrap up successful  ‘Ranchers Wrangling  the Recession’ fly-in
Members of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association gather in front of the White House during the “Ranchers Wrangling the Recession” 2011 fly-in to Washington, D.C., held Feb. 28 through March 2. Joining the association’s President Jon Wooster of California (back, from left) are USCA Deputy Director of Government and Industry Relations Kelly Fogarty of Washington, D.C., Destry Brown of Nebraska, USCA Executive Vice President Jess Peterson of Washington, D.C., Adam Redland of Wyoming, Eddie Shelton of Virginia, Alan Sents of Kansas, Chris Abbott of Nebraska, (front) Kathy Waltmon of Jasper, Texas, Debbie Shelton of Virginia, Justin Tupper of South Dakota, and Deanna Sents of Kansas.

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March 15, 2011
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) wrapped up its “Ranchers Wrangling the Recession” 2011 fly-in, according to a March 8 U.S. Cattlemen’s Association press release. Ranchers from throughout the country -- California, Kansas, Virginia, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Texas -- traveled to the nation’s capitol Feb. 28 through March 2, to bring their personal stories about issues affecting today’s cattle industry.

The week consisted of meetings with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, as well as a full day spent on the Hill talking with each member’s elected officials.

The priority issues addressed by ranchers throughout the week centered on beef trade, the Beef Check-off program, and market reform. Other issues addressed include Equal Access to Justice Act reform and restraining the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) growing influence in the ag industry.

Beef trade

The cattlemen also spent considerable time addressing the U.S. cattle industry’s current status within the international marketplace.

“We’ve seen firsthand how access within foreign markets can drive domestic prices and the industry must capitalize on any efforts to increase access,” said Justin Tupper, manager of St. Onge Livestock Market in St. Onge, S.D. “One issue the industry must address is the regionalization of the Brazilian state, Santa Catarina, that allows beef imports into the United States,” Tupper said. “Given the recent events in South Korea regarding the FMD [foot-and-mouth disease] outbreak and the catastrophe that has unfolded there, USCA members urged policy makers to adopt a moratorium against any U.S. access from a known FMD-affected region.”

Beef Check-off

The members touched upon issues regarding the basic framework of the domestic cattle industry as well. USCA member Chris Abbott said, “The U.S. cattle market is experiencing some of the highest prices ever, and while producers are benefiting from these positive markets, volatility in the value of the U.S. dollar is an issue that directly affects the cattle industry.”

Abbott continued saying, “USCA is a supporter of the Beef Check-off program and members have asked for efforts to improve the program. In light of the nation’s contracting cow herd, it will be crucial to producers to know exactly how their check-off dollars are being utilized, which requires full transparency by those charged with check-off oversight. The check-off is a crucial part of the cattle industry’s continued viability, but changes in the program’s structure and governance are overdue.”

Market reform

USCA President Jon Wooster of San Lucas, Calif., stressed the importance of addressing the issues that the members focused on while in Washington, D.C.

“Now is the time to follow up and place some pressure on policy makers to take a hard look at the issues facing today’s cattle industry,” Wooster said. “We are in need of a critical review of the marketplace and it will be crucial to maintain funding for the proposed GIPSA [Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration] rule so that the industry can have the opportunity to see what USDA has compiled from the substantial number of comments they’ve received.”

The fly-in followed a multi-state tour spanning four states that kicked off 2011, according to USCA Executive Vice President Jess Peterson.

At the final stop in Virginia, Peterson outlined several of the cattlemen’s top issues addressed during the fly-in, as well as its support for changes in the Packers and Stockyards Act, also known as the GIPSA rule.

According to Peterson in a March 7 press release, the cattlemen’s group participated in hearings that resulted in the proposed rule being administered by the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration. Peterson noted that many of the proposed changes are beneficial and that the USCA will be analyzing certain aspects of the rule that producers see as potentially problematic.

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