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|U.S. Cattle Producers Set Policy Priorities for 2004|
Washington, D.C. (February 6, 2003) - Cattle producers from across the country set priorities and outlined policy for their national organization last week during the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA)'s Annual Meeting at the 2004 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show. Thousands of cattle producers joined government officials and cattle industry representatives at the event in Phoenix, Arizona.
During in-depth policy committee meetings, producers had a chance to discuss top political priorities for the year, listening to fellow producers and talking one-on-one with policy officials and NCBA staff from the Washington, D.C. office.
After days of Committee meetings, regional meetings and group forums, the members of the NCBA passed resolutions that address specific concerns. Numerous new resolutions were developed in response to the Dec. 23 identification of a single imported cow with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). Policy initiatives passed, renewed, and amended at the 2004 Convention serve as a "road map" for NCBA staff, members, and state affiliates.
Following is a summary of some of the top initiatives passed and renewed:
-The members resolved that NCBA officially supports USDA actions to (1) ban downer animals from the food chain, (2) implement a "test and hold" procedure for all animals tested for BSE, (3) define specified risk material consistent to Canada's definition for all animals based upon age category, (4) broaden the rules for advanced meat recovery product from animals over 30 months of age, (5) prohibit the use of air-injection stunning, and (6) expedite the implementation of a national animal identification system.
-Significant effort by NCBA, its volunteer leaders, and state affiliates have played a significant role in the development of the U.S. Animal Identification Plan (USAIP). NCBA recognizes the need for an animal identification plan that is an effective disease surveillance and monitoring tool which serves the needs of its producer members. NCBA members voted to support adoption of the USAIP as the national animal identification program. NCBA recommends other components of the plan such as identification device distribution, hardware and system certification, and others be managed by the private sector, with decisions regarding animal data management for disease surveillance purposes be resolved on a state-by-state basis.
-NCBA will work with Congress and the Administration to ensure that APHIS, state animal health agencies, and producers secure the necessary funds to properly implement the USAIP.
-NCBA members noted that while 30 months of age is the currently accepted earliest threshold for expression of BSE in cattle, dentition is not a highly accurate method for determining age. NCBA resolved to assure that producers can use verifiable individual birth records as proof of age in lieu of dentition and encourage research to develop a more accurate method to determine the age of cattle at slaughter.
-NCBA will demand that USDA require Canada to harmonize its bluetongue and anaplasmosis regulations prior to allowing additional beef products or live cattle imports from Canada, and NCBA will make every effort to facilitate negotiations to harmonize all animal health regulations to allow year-round trade in cattle and beef. NCBA will continue to support vector borne research, including surveillance, on diseases of economic importance to U.S. beef producers.
-Since current live animal inspection methods are not sensitive enough to differentiate diseased disabled cattle from non-diseased disabled cattle, NCBA will support policies to prohibit the slaughter of disabled (downer, non-ambulatory) cattle from the commercial food supply.
-NCBA members resolved to fight for cattle feeding operations to be included in the definition of "agriculture" for purposes of USDA programs.
-Since government programs on specific commodities all have economic side effects, in 2004 NCBA will ask for full preliminary impact studies by USDA on any new farm legislation relating to side effects on other segments of agriculture.
-NCBA members resolved that they will support the concepts included in President Bush's immigration initiative that attempt to provide immigrants legitimately working in various occupations to remain in the country, while ensuring that illegal immigrants return to their home countries.
-The trespass of Mexican cattle and entry of illegal immigrants from Mexico poses very serious animal health problems for cattlemen along the U.S. Mexico border, including the possible outbreak of animal diseases. Therefore, NCBA resolved that property owners be reimbursed for damages caused by illegal immigrant activities, and the Department of Homeland Security do whatever possible to get these border situations under control.
-NCBA strongly opposes the use of Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds to augment Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or U.S. Forest Service (USFS) appropriations, and the funds should be used for individual landowner contracts.
-NCBA members renewed a handful of international markets policies for 2004. NCBA shall continually monitor international trade issues to assure U.S. beef producers have fair and equal access to the markets of competing exporting countries.
-NCBA will continue to ask for full funding of the Market Access Program, or any successor program, and is strongly in favor of making funds available for export promotions of beef and beef products.
-Members will continue to lead U.S. beef producers in facilitating marketing channels to encourage exports of source-verified, hormone-free beef by working to resolve international inspection inequities and other technical barriers as well as prevent additional barriers from developing.
-NCBA members newly resolved that all products in all sectors should be included in trade agreements that the U.S. negotiates. They agreed that the U.S. should not allow provisions that will have the effect of excluding products or similarly limiting our negotiators' flexibility, as it establishes a dangerous precedent in trade agreements. Such a precedent could allow foreign governments to negotiate trade agreements which do not provide complete liberalization for U.S. beef exports.
-Cattle producers renewed policy on Mandatory Price Reporting, resolving that NCBA take appropriate action with the USDA and Congress to require that any U.S. packer controlling or slaughtering 50,000 head or more annually of federally inspected slaughter be required to report price and terms of purchase of all cattle purchased within 24 hours of purchase. They called for immediate mandatory volume and price reporting be achieved for boxed beef, beef imports, and beef exports.
-NCBA voted to renew its support for reform of the Jones Act to allow the use of foreign owned or built livestock carriers to ship cattle between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland.
-Members voted to support an increase in the daily price limit in live and feeder cattle futures from $1.50 per cwt to $2 per cwt. They resolved that after two consecutive limit closes in the same direction, the subsequent days limit will be $3 and stay at $3 dollars until there is no limit move, at which time it will revert to $2.
-NCBA resolved to support the American Trucking Association in efforts to standardize truck length and weights for vehicles used on federal, state and county public roads that are constructed with federal funds to allow gross weight over 80,000 lbs.
-Members of NCBA agreed that their president will appoint a commission on animal identification, and this commission will report to NCBA's appropriate policy committees, responsible for: (1) establishing guidelines to help producers comply with any mandatory government ID program; (2) establishing standards for and identify an audit process for ID goods and services that companies wish to present to NCBA for a "Beef USA" seal of approval; (3) studying the need and usefulness of a USDA process verified or International Standards Organization approved producer certification, (4) providing strategic counsel for a producer education program for animal ID, and more.
KNOWLEDGE AND RESEARCH
-NCBA encourages USDA and the industry to pursue the development of a National Center of Excellence for Beef Cattle Education and Research.
-NCBA members renewed many resolutions on the detailed principles of federal lands grazing management and grazing policy, wildlife programs, fencing requirements, National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), public land agencies, water permitting, range monitoring, wild burros, and more.
-Members resolved to work with agencies to amend requirements for fences to allow for all livestock fences to be built up to a 52-inch height, and to opposes policy requiring permittees and private landowners to construct and maintain fences to exclude livestock from riparian areas without consultation and cooperation.
-NCBA voted to oppose the proposal in HR 3446 to manage bison in Yellowstone National Park.
-NCBA policy supports a voluntary shared stewardship program and seeks to include permittee/agency monitoring, and pooled forage arrangements for grazing that give priority to existing ranching operations, new ranchers or associations of ranchers, and seeks to include stewardship contracts for grazing and collaborative stewardship of public lands.
- Members resolved that existing wilderness areas/study areas should be re-examined and only those that meet the criteria specified in the Wilderness Act of 1964 should remain wilderness or wilderness study areas. All other areas should be released back to multiple-use management.
TAX & CREDIT
-On tax and credit issue affecting cattle producers, NCBA members made numerous renewals to extensive existing tax policy priorities, dealing with general permit process, tax code changes, unemployment issues, budget, and more. They renewed their aggressive fight for permanent elimination of federal estate taxes.
-NCBA members renewed a plethora of policy in regards to property rights. This policy included its position on wildlife services programs, Animal Feeding Operations, Reclamation Act, Global Climate Treaty, Livestock Manure, Wetlands, Disaster Relief, Animal Damage Control, Mississippi National River Recreational Area Plan (MNRRA), Rails to Trails, Universal Soil Loss Equation, Emergency Replacement and Repair of Private Property, Federal Lands Acquisition, Open Range and more.
-NCBA renewed its promise to work toward the use of EQIP money for all sizes of operations for the best use of the funds available and/or the development of new cost sharing and technical assistance programs that would allow for the participation of all sizes of livestock operations.
-NCBA will continue to encourage every state beef cattle association to maintain an active position on their state's Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) coalition steering committee.
-NCBA continues to oppose including public access to private property as a condition of, or in the prioritization process for, receiving federal cost share funds for conservation and other farm programs.
- NCBA will seek the creation of a National Sage Grouse Scientific Review Team to provide information to the USFWS to aid the service in its review of the petitions to list the greater sage grouse. NCBA shall seek the active participation and assistance of the USFWS in the creation of western state greater sage grouse conservation plans.
-On endangered species issues, NCBA voted to insist that scientific data be presented and/or studies be conducted that conclusively demonstrate what the species historic range was and how the demographic of that present day historic range has changed and if it is still suitable habitat for the species in question. NCBA will urge the federal agencies to work as partners with the states in developing measurable recovery goals for every listed species in order to ensure a higher likelihood of program success,.
-USDA is currently contemplating the reorganization and merging of the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Rural Development Agency.
NCBA members strongly oppose closing USDA field offices, which will adversely impact the ability of our members to have access to USDA programs. NCBA very strongly opposes the co-joining of computer technology functions, which can compromise confidentiality of private information.
"Once again this year, our members brought an overwhelmingly impressive list of policy priorities to the table for 2004," says Kansas cattle producer and newly elected NCBA President Jan Lyons. "We don't just work on a few policy issues, but represent the entire cattle industry's needs in Washington, D.C."
For more information on the Policy Resolutions and Directives from the Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, or photos of the event, contact the NCBA Washington, D.C. office at 202-347-0228.
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The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) is the largest organization representing America's cattle industry. Initiated in 1898, NCBA is the industry leader in education, influencing public policy to improve producer profitability and in preserving the industry's heritage and future. Efforts are made possible through membership contributions. To join, contact NCBA at 1-866-BEEF-USA or firstname.lastname@example.org.