Nebraska Cattlemen sets new policies and names leadership

Dec 18, 2009
by WLJ

Despite a monstrous snow storm two weeks ago, cattle producers were able to tend to business both on their operations and for their industry. Nebraska cattle producers cared for their animals during the storm and then hoofed it to Kearney for the annual Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Convention. Attendance was excellent and provided for outstanding discussion and debate on key issues important to Nebraska cattle producers.

Members discussed and approved many policies, including three resolutions from the Animal Health and Nutrition Committee approved by NC members at the Annual Business Meeting. The first states that NC will work with the Nebraska Department of Ag and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, and other appropriate agencies, to change state statute to more reasonably fit the needs of livestock producers to dispose of livestock mortalities. U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules require specified risk materials to be removed prior to rendering of cattle 30 months of age and older. However, not all rendering companies have this capability and they have ceased picking up cattle carcasses over 30 months. This has left many producers in parts of the state without rendering sources. Current state statute prohibits composting of carcasses over 600 pounds and restricts transportation of carcasses by livestock owners, which have made it difficult for cattle producers to deal with cattle mortalities.

A second resolution from the Animal Health Committee states that non-ambulatory cattle should be humanely euthanized as soon as possible. Safety and wellbeing of cattle handlers is a priority and a factor of the policy. Similarly, humane handling of cattle has always been a priority for Nebraska beef producers. In addition, current technology and transportation methods make it difficult to move non-ambulatory cattle to processing facilities in a humane and safe manner.

In a third new resolution, NC supports establishing a Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) educational program online so that more producers have access to BQA training. The resolution recognizes the national BQA program is a vital educational program to help producers maintain consumer confidence.

NC approved a Brand and Property Rights Committee resolution adopting recommendations from a NC Brand Task Force. That resolution asks the Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC) to look at either charging a minimum fee for local inspections (ones performed on farms and ranches) or a service charge and to look at receiving reimbursement for mileage on local inspections. The resolution also has a provision that NBC accept a bill of sale on small groups of cattle with a copy of that document being filed with NBC rather than requiring a local inspection. Further, the resolution gives notice to NBC that once its fiscal pressures are relieved, NC expects a drop in the per head inspection fee.

NC approved a Natural Resources and Environment Committee resolution to support local control of natural resources strongly, including water, through the existing Natural Resource District (NRD) structure. Further, NC will oppose any legislative changes that would impede the purposes under which the NRDs were created.

NC’s Marketing and Commerce Committee recommended renewal of USDA’s Mandatory Price Reporting (MPR) program for fed cattle and boxed beef. The federally funded program is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2010. Numerous classes of data released through MPR serve as useful “benchmarks” for producers making marketing and risk management decisions on a daily and weekly basis. In addition, there are numerous data sets, i.e., numbers and basis levels of fed cattle contracts and numbers of cattle committed to packers, available via MPR that were previously unavailable to producers.

In other business, NC officers elected are President Bill Rishel of North Platte, President-Elect Chuck Folken of Leigh, and Vice President Jim Ramm of Atkinson.

NC Board and leadership elections also include the following: Member Services Vice Chairman, Region 1, Lewis Coulter of Scottsbluff; Member Services Vice Chairman, Region 3, Joel Bruns of Wakefield; Cow/Calf Council Chairman Dale Spencer of Brewster and Vice Chairman Henry Beel of Johnstown; Farmer Stockman Council Chairman Gregg Wiedel of Hebron and Vice Chairman Doug Parde of Sterling; Feedlot Council Chairman Buck Wehrbein of Mead and Vice Chairman Ray Carr of Bassett; Seedstock Council Chairman Doug Keiser of Gothenburg and Vice Chairman Lowell Minert of Dunning; Education Committee Chairman Kristen Eggerling of Martell and Vice Chairman Nancy Peterson of Gordon; Brand and Property Rights Committee Vice Chairman Charlie Hamilton of Ellsworth; Allied Industries Council Representative Ron Kulwicki of St. Paul; UNL Representative Twig Marston of Norfolk. — WLJ