Cattlemen address ag issues during D.C. fly-in
Courtesy Photo/U.S. CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION
A U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) delegation meets Oct. 5 with officials at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative during their three-day fly-in to Washington, D.C. Attending the meeting were (from left) Adam Johnson of Indiana, Kenny Graner of North Dakota, Deb Dressler of North Dakota, Colton Brajcich of Montana, Tammy Basel of South Dakota, Rick Gross of North Dakota, Amanda Radke of South Dakota, Charlie Price of Texas, Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, Andrew Wood of Indiana, Jim Hornbacher of North Dakota, Courtney Nolz of South Dakota, Joe Cook of Montana, Diane McDonald of North Dakota, Chuck Kiker of Texas, Pat Becker of North Dakota, Mary Ellen Cammack of South Dakota, and USCA Executive Vice President Jess Peterson. Also attending was Kelly Fogarty, USCA Deputy Director for Government and Industry Relations.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association held its fourth Washington, D.C., fly-in of 2011 with an 18-member delegation from across the Midwest participating in a diverse array of events and meetings Oct. 3-5 in the nation’s capital. The association’s members represented five states -- North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Texas, and Indiana.
The delegation spent their time working with congressional members and staff on a multitude of key issues currently under consideration by Congress and the Obama administration. The 18-member team comprising the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association’s fly-in ranged in diversity from young producers still establishing their operations to ranchers from Texas currently undergoing the most extreme drought conditions in the region in decades.
While in Washington, D.C., the cattlemen participated in a joint effort led by a number of national organizations that focuses on supporting efforts to increase broadband Internet access throughout rural America. The delegation related personal stories about how their businesses have been hampered by the lack of reliable or competitive wireless options. U.S. Cattlemen’s Association member Chuck Kiker noted his experience with Internet in his home state of Texas.
“Ranchers run their business from a multitude of locations that include their truck, on their horse, and in the pasture,” Kiker said. “If we aren’t able to receive real-time information on market price fluctuations or policy changes in D.C., we aren’t able to market our products competitively against those producers who have real-time access to auction yards and market reporting websites.”
“Our members were in D.C. at another pivotal time in the legislative calendar,” Kiker continued. “In addition to rural broadband access, the delegation focused on the pending free trade agreements, conservation, and livestock policies within the upcoming Farm Bill as well as a recently introduced legislative bill targeting increased agricultural research opportunities through expansion of the tax code.”
In addition to the time spent meeting with representatives of the members’ state delegations, the members of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association took part in multiple meetings with officials in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
While at the USDA, the delegation thanked the agency officials and staff for the recent extension granted to the public comment period on the proposed animal traceability rule.
The members were also able to meet with officials at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in order to discuss the ongoing World Trade Organization challenge of Country of Origin Labeling.
The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association “has remained the sole cattle organization actively defending COOL [Country of Origin Labeling]”, said Kenny Graner of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. “Not only do we see COOL as a means by which U.S. cattle producers can market their own product in the domestic marketplace, but in today’s economy where consumers are driving the markets through their desire to know where their food comes from, this policy allows for just that. It is truly a policy that has the consumer in mind and we will continue to fight for its existence.”
“The opportunity to have our members sit down face-to-face with members of Congress and administration officials is priceless,” said Jon Wooster, president of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. “It is imperative, with the 2012 Farm Bill policy-writing under way and the budget cuts being handed out, that all industry groups be involved in policy discussions particularly with regard to conservation and livestock titles within the bill.”