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Agriculture Today

Cattle raisers meet in Washington; wildfires top concerns

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July 13, 2011 | 3,606 views | Post a comment

Members of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association met with members of Congress June 22 to discuss issues important to cattle raisers and the beef industry. Topping the list of concerns is the Texas wildfires.

“More than 3 million acres of Texas lands have burned,” said Joe Parker Jr., rancher and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association president. “Cattle raisers have lost more than 4,000 miles of fences which equals more than $40 million dollars in rebuilding costs.”

Cattle raisers are urging the administration to issue a major disaster declaration for the state of Texas in order to open up additional assistance for firefighting services.

“Wildfire season isn’t over yet, and we are concerned that so much of the state’s resources have been used up,” Parker said.

The cattle raisers association also is working to waive the requirement that, in order to be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s fence rebuilding cost share assistance, fences must be less than 20 years old. The association is working to waive the requirement so that in times of natural disasters, fences of all ages will qualify.

The cattle raisers association also is working to change the federal tax code to allow costs of replacing fences destroyed in natural disasters to be fully tax deductible in the year the costs are incurred, rather than deducting the costs over a period of years.

Cattle raisers also are concerned about overregulation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to Parker, the EPA is proposing to regulate agriculture dust at more stringent levels and private surface water through a guidance document.

“Each of these regulations will place unnecessary and costly burdens on ranchers who simply want to make a living and provide a safe and healthy food source to consumers around the world,” Parker said. “The combination of overregulation on top of the taxes they will require to implement will undoubtedly be a financial disaster for ranchers, putting many of us out of business.”

Other issues of concern include U.S. corn-based ethanol policies that continue to increase feed costs for livestock producers; the listing of many endangered species, including the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, in Texas without sufficient data to verify a listing; and the passage of pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is a 134-year-old trade organization. As the largest and oldest livestock association in Texas, the association represents more than 15,000 beef cattle producers, ranching families, and businesses who manage approximately 4 million head of cattle on 75.9 million acres of range and pasture land, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma.

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