News Update

May 3, 2005

Ranchers to Give Input on Farm Bill

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a nationwide series of listening sessions to give farmers and ranchers an opportunity to voice their ideas for developing farm policy and the new Farm Bill. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced the agency’s plans yesterday in an address to the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) in Washington, D.C.

“I want to ask farmers and ranchers how our farm policy is affecting them and how we might make that policy better,” he said. “USDA is here to serve America’s agricultural community, and the best way we can do this is by asking for your help and for your advice. America’s farmers and ranchers are our customers, and their voices must be an important part of our farm policy.”

While Johanns didn’t provide a timeline for the listening sessions, he gave some indication that they could begin sometime this summer.

He also outlined key issues of particular interest to be addressed at listening sessions. These issues center around questions such as:

• Are we (USDA) doing enough to encourage and support the next generation of farmers and people who are interested in starting out in production agriculture?

• Are we fostering the right kind of atmosphere for farmers and ranchers, one in which the opportunity to succeed is there?

• And is there more that we can do to expand this administration’s groundbreaking success with cooperative conservation — conservation that works with agriculture and not against it?

Johanns said trade policy may also be discussed during the sessions.

NRCS Seeks Comments

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking public comment on priorities of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). A national listening session is scheduled from 1-3 p.m., May 5. The agency will use the session to prepare for 2006. Both written and oral comments will be accepted at the session, and written comments will be accepted through June 5. For more information and directions for viewing the sessions, visit

U.S. Lost Billions to BSE, Researchers Say

The U.S. lost $3.2 to $4.7 billion during 2004 due to lost beef export markets, according to a report released late last week by the Kansas Department of Agriculture and Kansas State University (K-State) researchers.

The report, titled “The Economic Impact of BSE on the U.S. Beef Industry,” suggests that U.S. exports — valued at $3.95 billion prior to the December 2003 BSE finding — fell by 82% in 2004. Researchers also estimate that it would have cost approximately $640 million to test all cattle harvested in the United States in 2004, not including investments needed to place testing facilities in processing plants. However, researchers also estimate that if the U.S. were to test roughly 75% of commercial cattle for harvest and regain about 25% of export markets in Japan and South Korea, the revenue achieved through regained export markets would equal testing costs. If half of those markets were regained with only 25% of cattle tested, the wholesale revenue gain would be $22.84 per head, the report explains.

“According to the research, if voluntary testing of 25% of U.S. slaughter cattle allowed the industry to regain access to the Japanese and South Korean export markets, and the U.S. was able to ship just one-half the quantity shipped during 2003, the potential return to the beef industry would have been nearly $750 million,” Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Adrian Polansky explained in a K-State release.

Researchers also evaluated the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) updated regulations and their effects at packer and producer levels. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) proposed changes in feed regulations were addressed, and the study examined the effect of USDA’s rule prohibiting nonambulatory animals from entering the food supply.

K-State ag economics professor James Mintert, who led the research team, said “Assuming that 95% of nonambulatory cattle in 2004 passed the standards in place before USDA enacted its ban on nonambulatory cattle entering the food supply, the economic benefit could have been more than $63 million.”

To view the full report, visit

Simulcast Tonight

Representatives of Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) will make an appearance on RFD-TV tonight at 8 p.m. EST. The live call-in show will feature discussion of the organization’s positions on issues affecting cattle producers. Using a toll-free number announced on air, viewers are invited to call in and ask questions. The show will be rebroadcast tomorrow at 4 a.m. and noon EST.

RFD-TV is available on DISH Network and DIRECTV, channels 9409 and 379, respectively.

by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc. assistant editor

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