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Cattlemen wrap up ‘Sizzling Summer Fly-In 2011’
Members of the cattle industry participating in the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) “Sizzling Summer Fly-In 2011” include (from left) USCA Deputy Director of Government and Industry Relations Kelly Fogarty of Washington, D.C., USCA members Patrick Becker of North Dakota, Jack Alexander of Montana, Brian Malaer of Texas, Adam Redland and Heather Hamilton of Wyoming, Francis “Buck” Maher of North Dakota, Deanna and Allan Sents of Kansas, USCA President Jon Wooster of California, USCA Executive Vice President Jess Peterson of Washington, D.C., USCA members Casey Perman of South Dakota, Kenny Graner of North Dakota, Jason Anderberg of South Dakota, Adam Johnson of Indiana, Boe Lopez of New Mexico, Justin Fisher of Colorado, Andrew Wood of Indiana, Allen Lund of North Dakota, and Chase Adams of South Dakota.
The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association wrapped up another successful fly-in -- “Sizzling Summer Fly-In 2011” -- to the nation’s capital the week of June 13. An 18-member delegation, representing 10 states, gathered in Washington, D.C., to deliver the cattlemen’s position on current legislative issues to both agency and Hill offices.
According to a June 28 press release, the cattlemen represented a diverse range of the U.S. cattle industry. Members hailed from family cow-calf operations, livestock auction yards, independent feed yards, agriculture lenders, and young ranchers just starting out in the industry.
The wide range of industry representation allowed the group to touch on all areas and aspects within the current agriculture policy landscape.
In light of the recent passage of the Agriculture Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2012 in the House, the timing of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association’s fly-in could not have come at a more pivotal time. Lawmakers were able to hear first-hand from the countryside and the ranchers whose livelihoods depend on policies passed within the bill.
Taking precedent throughout the groups’ meetings were several key issues, including maintaining funding for the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) proposed rule; continued support for the administration’s work toward implementing the Animal Disease Traceability plan; and the final process regarding the Country of Origin Labeling case currently within the World Trade Organization court, as well as various trade and farm bill priorities.
U.S. Cattlemen’s Association member Allen Lund said, “The proposed GIPSA rule and the COOL [Country of Origin Labeling] case within the WTO [World Trade Organization] are prime examples of two current issues that must be addressed within the cattle industry. Both have endured lengthy procedural processes and are nearing completion. The amount of time and resources that have been invested into both deserves to be recognized through a final product being made available to the public. ... The same set of principles applies to the proposed GIPSA rule. The administration has addressed the need to target competition reform and the public has voiced their opinions; now it is time to let the government continue their work and publish a rule so all may see how their input was received and similarly recognized.”
USCA member Justin Fisher commented on the importance of the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill and the priorities Congress must address. “While it has been made painstakingly clear that the lack of funds and budgetary constraints will guide the 2012 Farm Bill, those in Congress must keep the nation’s rancher in mind. Ranchers, more than anyone, recognize the value of a dollar and the need to work within a tight budget. However, there are certain items which must be maintained to ensure the industry’s vitality. Notably, the permanent livestock disaster title will be vital in light of the recent natural disasters occurring throughout the country.”
Fisher highlighted that multiple participants are currently afflicted by such events, “We have ranchers from New Mexico facing wildfires, ranchers in Texas experiencing the worst drought on record, and ranchers in Montana drowning in the relentless rainstorms that have plagued the state following a harsh winter. These stories convey precisely why Congress must maintain funding to help ranchers recover when affected by adverse weather conditions that are beyond their control yet devastate their operations.”
The cattlemen’s group also touched on one of the points within the targeted agenda of the newly formed White House Rural Council, established by President Obama on June 9.
Boe Lopez of New Mexico commented on the issue of broadband access within rural America and the importance it plays in ranchers’ everyday lives.
“As a rancher, our office is in our truck or in remote locations where we don’t have the luxury of adequate coverage. As a result, we are put at a disadvantage by not having full-time access to market reports or basic lines of communication between fellow ranchers.”
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