NCBA adopts farm bill guiding principles, interim policies

Aug 5, 2011
by WLJ

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall said the "proof is in the pudding" that NCBA’s grassroots policy process works as the 2011 Cattle Industry Summer Conference wrapped up in Kissimmee, FL. Despite the fact that the current Farm Bill does not expire until 2012, Woodall said NCBA needs its "marching orders" because the debate of the next Farm Bill is well underway.

"Cattlemen have long supported efforts to minimize direct federal involvement in the cattle industry. That is why our first priority during the 2012 Farm Bill debate is to eliminate or reduce the livestock title. We can thank that title for things like the USDA’s proposed livestock marketing rule and mandatory Country-of-Origin-Labeling, which will not benefit cattlemen in any way, shape or form," Woodall said.

NCBA members also adopted several interim policy positions that will serve as the roadmap for NCBA’s staff in Washington, D.C. Interim policy was passed supporting additional research to identify and test alternative cattle production practices that maintain the highest standards for animal health and well-being without resulting in additional costs to cattlemen, losses in production, or mandated animal handling practices.

"More than two decades ago, cattlemen took the initiative to work with scientists and veterinarians to develop voluntary animal care and handling programs," Woodall said. "Those programs have worked because cattlemen take ownership in them."

NCBA passed interim policy that supports strengthening border security and improves current immigration policies in the U.S. NCBA members also approved an interim policy to make much needed improvements to longstanding challenges with rangeland improvement programs; policies to update cost-share programs to improve fencing destroyed by natural disasters; and policy to allow the immediate release of land from the Conservation Reserve Program to help with natural disaster situations.

A major concern for U.S. cattlemen is the threat of catastrophic wildfire. Woodall said environmental laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act, have been abused by environmentalists to block multiple uses on federal lands.

"Rather than spending billions of taxpayer dollars to react to and suppress catastrophic wildfires, which not only harm the land but also the water, wildlife habitat and threaten our safety, we need the ability to manage the range and prevent these fires from even happening," Woodall said. "That includes responsible grazing and thinning of the forests."

The summer conference concluded Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. Interim policies passed at the summer conference will go before the entire NCBA membership for approval during the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Nashville, TN, in February. — WLJ