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U.S. Cattle Producers Set Policy Priorities and Initiatives for 2003

Washington, D.C. (February 6, 2003) – Cattle producers from across the country set priorities for their national organization last week when the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) held its Annual Meeting at the 2003 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show. More than 5,000 cattle producers joined government officials and cattle industry representatives at the event in Nashville, Tenn.

Featuring high-ranking government officials from every major agency dealing with the cattle industry, two Cabinet Secretaries and a television address from the President, this year’s Convention demonstrated the Bush Administration’s commitment to NCBA priorities, according to NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Chandler Keys. "We had an impressive turnout this year," Keys says. "To implement the policies agreed upon at this convention, we need support across the board, and without a doubt this turnout shows everyone that we mean business."

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.

"NCBA has a great reputation in Washington, D.C., and a strong, active working relationship with influential policymakers, administrations, and staff members," says Keys. "Being a member of NCBA gives you a direct connection to Capitol Hill — no matter how many thousands of miles away you are, or how remote your hometown is."

Policy initiatives passed, renewed, and amended at the 2003 Convention serve as a "road map" for NCBA staff, members, and state affiliates. Following is a brief summary of some of the top initiatives passed and renewed:

Disaster Relief
• NCBA will continue to aggressively pursue adequate funding for livestock producers adversely impacted by disaster conditions.

• NCBA will continue to monitor the distribution of any disaster assistance funding to ensure the funds are directed to those producers directly impacted.

• NCBA is committed to working with USDA and Congress to ensure that eligibility criteria for all livestock assistance and compensation programs are based on livestock and/or forage production losses and funding is distributed on actual county losses.

Live Cattle Marketing
• NCBA will work as a catalyst and information clearinghouse with producers, feeders, packers and retailers to formulate, implement and provide information on grid pricing systems that adequately reward the management techniques required to consistently purvey a high quality product at every level of production.

• The physical delivery process is vital in maintaining the integrity of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Live Cattle contract, and contract specifications must be balanced so that neither shorts nor longs in the market have any undue advantage in the delivery process or related arbitrages. NCBA supports (1) an increase in the allowable average weight of animals in a delivery unit to 1,350 pounds, (2) that Greeley, Colo., should be added as a delivery point, and (3) when the cumulative effects of contract modifications result in a level of deliverable supply sufficient to support an increase in the spot month speculative trading limits, without having a negative impact on basis predictability, NCBA will support such an increase.


• Securing the health and safety of agriculture from terrorist groups and other negative influences is of serious concern. Therefore, NCBA supports new initiatives to: 1) strengthen the penalties for anyone involved in terrorist activities affecting the agricultural industry, 2) provide increased coordination of local, state, and federal officials to more effectively monitor and respond to these threats; and 3) give producers increased protections against false and derogatory statements or ballot issues that would endanger a producer’s livelihood or diminish livestock production practices.

Cattle Health and Well-Being
• NCBA members are dedicated to keeping foreign animal diseases out of the country.

• Two NCBA policies passed will help Washington, D.C. staff, USDA and Congress work together to ensure systems are in place to prevent the reintroduction of Texas Cattle Fever or introduction of Heartwater, spread by the Tropical Bont Tick, to the United States.

• NCBA continues to maintain Congressional awareness and support to adequately fund Johne’s Disease control and research programs.

• The population of free roaming deer, elk, bison, ferel hogs, et al. increase the potential of disease and pest exposure to cattle is significant due to cohabitation, and private ownership of these animals has increased dramatically in recent years, and the risk of exposure to disease (both eradicated domestic and foreign animal disease) is high. Therefore, NCBA will encourage USDA Agriculture Research Service, Wildlife Service, University, and other researchers to conduct needed disease surveillance and research on wildlife and exotic game animals to protect the cattle population.

Federal Lands
• NCBA shall seek a change to Bureau of Land Management grazing regulations during the appeals process, working to ensure that no permittee will be deprived of the re-issuance of a grazing permit or lease because the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review was not completed prior to expiration or transfer of a permit or lease.

• NEPA analysis should not be required for the renewal or transfer of grazing permits unless significant modification of the permit is occurring, nor for activities that implement the goals of a Resource Management Plan that has met existing NEPA requirements. NCBA will work to find a long-term strategy in order to complete the environmental review process in a timely, thorough and practical manner.

• NCBA is strongly urging government agencies, to use on-the-ground and site specific monitoring techniques that utilize science-based practices and principles that establish long-term trend condition. Members are actively opposed to the implementation of new non-scientific numeric standards, such as stream bank trampling standards, which have not been accepted by the scientific community and do not measure trend and resource health.

Country of Origin Labeling (see complete resolution below)
• Serious concerns about mandatory Country of Origin Labeling have arisen since the passage of the 2002 Farm Bill, and there is increasing recognition of possible adverse aspects, including the costs, benefits and impact, relative to tracking, auditing, verification and compliance.

• NCBA will, with regard to implementation of mandatory Country of Origin Labeling: 1) request Congressional hearings to investigate the impact; 2) request USDA hold field hearings to increase awareness about Country of Origin Labeling; 3) develop educational and informational messages to inform producers about Country of Origin Labeling; and 4) work with state cattle associations and related groups to communicate this message.

Farm Bill Implementation
• NCBA will work to ensure that land tracts that include non-program crops in planting history for 1998-2001 are able to obtain a special exemption to retain current Production Flexibility Contracts (PFC) base when a producer chooses to update acre and yield bases.

Property Rights & Environmental Management
• NCBA opposes implementation of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, and has resolved to contact each congressional office and encourage members to oppose American Heritage River designations for rivers in their districts.

• The Endangered Species Act causes undue economic loss through restriction of private property rights, restraint of recognized management practices and of predator damage. NCBA is urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to immediately promulgate procedures and regulations whereby information or references to occurrences of plant or animal species on private property without the written consent of the landowner or his agent be excluded from consideration by the FWS in connection with listings or determinations of threatened or endangered species.

• NCBA opposes federal laws and policies that impose conservation easements on land owners or utilize conservation easements in a way that causes economic harm to rural communities.

• NCBA opposes including public access to private property as a condition of, or in the prioritization for receiving federal cost share funds for conservation.

Tax & Credit
• NCBA’s top tax & credit priority in 2003 continues to be the fight for permanent repeal of the Death Tax, and the members renewed these resolutions.

• Conservation easements are a valuable tool for estate planning and allow tax benefits to the donor of the easement. NCBA supports legislation to give the donor of a conservation easement substantially more time to use the tax deduction than the current 6 years and to give agricultural producers a larger percentage income tax deduction than currently allowed (30%) by the tax code.

Beef Safety
• Reduction of E. coli O157:H7 continues to be a top priority for the beef industry, and NCBA reaffirms its commitment to further reduce the risks associated with E. coli O157:H7 utilizing scientifically proven production practices and technologies, and its goal to produce, deliver and serve wholesome and safe beef for each and every family.

• NCBA will continue working with all segments of the beef industry and government to pursue interventions that reduce the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 and seek the necessary regulatory approvals and implementation across the industry.

• NCBA will work with members of the beef industry and USDA to fund the dissemination of food safety educational resource materials to consumers of beef products.

International Trade

• CBA has resolved that high priority be given to funding of foreign marketing initiatives through the Meat Export Federation (MEF), including redeveloping growth in markets with losses such as Japan and other countries.

• Proposed removal of import quotas on Australian beef under a bilateral trade agreement could adversely affect US cattle producers without adequate negotiated protections. Therefore, NCBA will oppose any bilateral trade agreement between the US and Australia that takes effect before the World Trade Organization Doha Round Agreement becomes effective.

"NCBA members bring an overwhelmingly impressive list of policy issues into the spotlight," says Idaho beef producer and newly elected NCBA President Eric Davis. We don’t just work on one issue, but represent the entire cattle industry’s needs in Washington D.C. Our thousands of members and staff are at the cutting edge of each of these sectors, and this should prove to be an exciting year for our industry."

For more information on the Policy Resolutions and Directives from the Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, go to www.beef.org or contact the NCBA Washington, D.C. office at 202-347-0228.

For more coverage of the Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, you can go to the "real-time" coverage site at www.4cattlemen.com.

Statement by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Regarding Country of Origin Labeling Resolution

February 5, 2003

"The NCBA Board of Directors approved a resolution on Country of Origin Labeling that calls for increased communication between producers and government, more opportunities to provide input on the program, and additional educational information for producers.

"The resolution passed last week is based upon the growing concerns that have been expressed regarding the implementation of the law. NCBA has historically believed that the impacts of this program must be carefully evaluated, and more information must be exchanged between policymakers and cattle producers prior to implementation of a mandatory Country of Origin program. This resolution will help achieve those objectives.

"The resolution passed at the NBCA Board of Directors meeting on February 1 held in conjunction with the 2003 Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville."

The formal resolution is below:

WHEREAS, many serious concerns about mandatory Country of Origin Labeling have arisen since the passage of the 2002 Farm Bill,

WHEREAS, there is increasing recognition about the many adverse aspects of Country of Origin Labeling including the costs, benefits and impact of Country of Origin Labeling relative to tracking, auditing, verification and compliance,

WHEREAS, NCBA policy does not support mandatory labeling but remains in support of Country of Origin labeling that is voluntary and industry driven,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCBA shall, with regard to implementation of mandatory Country of Origin Labeling:

1. Request Congressional hearings to investigate the impact of Country of Origin Labeling,
2. Request USDA hold field hearings to increase awareness about Country of Origin Labeling,
3. Develop educational and informational messages to inform producers about Country of Origin Labeling, and
4. Work with state cattle associations and related groups to communicate this message.

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