Most everyone expected voters to show their frustration with the current administration at the mid-term elections last week. Most everyone, though, was surprised by the degree of frustration.
Republicans needed to pick up 39 seats to obtain a majority in the House of Representatives. Though some tallying continues, Republicans picked up at least 60 seats in the biggest House swing since the 1940s.
“Over the past two years, our nation’s farmers and ranchers have overcome threats of a cap-and-trade bill, legislation to ban the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and a rapidly expanding federal government,” says Steve Foglesong, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). “Despite what leadership in the 111th Congress may have believed, cattle producers don’t need big government setting up camp in cattle country. I am hopeful the newly elected members of Congress will restore some much-needed balance and common sense to Congress.”
As an example, NCBA mounted a campaign a week before the elections to inform voters which legislators continued to support government overreach via the proposed GIPSA rule that would rob cattle producers of marketing freedom.
NCBA advertisements and editorials in regional papers across cattle country informed voters that Reps. Betsy Markey (D-CO), Debbie Halvorson (D-IL), Steve Kagen (D-WI), and John Boccieri (D-OH) did not sign a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to encourage a comprehensive economic analysis of a rule on livestock and poultry marketing that could put small- to medium-sized producers out of business. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) was also targeted for signing a letter that supports the rule. Except for Bennet all candidates targeted in the campaign were defeated.
“This pervasive invasion of government into private business must stop. We stepped up to support our farmers and ranchers who stimulate the U.S. economy and create jobs without excessive, burdensome regulations and overreach,” says Foglesong. “Rural America spoke up and gave the boot to candidates putting big government before innovative cattlemen who manage to feed a growing population, stimulate the economy and create jobs without government handouts. I hope the election results serve as a clue to the Obama administration that it needs to pull this proposed rule. We do not need big government telling us how to market our cattle.”
Though focus of the elections was on a new Congress, Foglesong reminds producers, “At the end of the day, however, we must not lose sight of the fact that the 111th Congress isn’t over yet. Over the course of the next few weeks, Congress must take action to prevent family farmers and ranchers from being hit with the return of the 55% death tax on Jan. 1, 2011. Family-owned and run farming and ranching operations are the lifeblood of rural America, but the return of the death tax would be a devastating blow to farmers and ranchers who’ve planned their entire lives to pass their operation on to the next generation.”