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Opinion: An R-CALF Press Conference. Really?

R-CALF continued to press forward this week with its hay pollutant argument, scheduling a press conference for next week in Kansas (see "R-CALF’s Single Issue Focus Shows” in last week’s newsletter). Many in the industry have been dismayed by R-CALF’s pressing forward on an issue that isn’t new; after all, there is no new rule, nor even a new interpretation of the rule. In actuality, this issue was fought and largely won a significant time ago.

The feeling among some is that this is largely a continuation of a strategy that has worked quite well in the past for R-CALF – that is to never admit a mistake, just press on, and the clutter will keep most folks from even realizing that a problem existed. But, whether it was planned or just a function of strict adherence to the belief that the entire system is weighted against small producers, it appears that this R-CALF action might be more than just a compounding of a mistake.

Last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and others took up the GIPSA rule as a prime example of government issuing rules rather than legislating and the problem of excessive regulation on the economy. The GIPSA rule has lost it momentum, and with the House pulling funding and the Senate leaving it in, the result that comes out of conference will be crucial to its survival.

While the political landscape is dynamic, it is changing, and not in a favorable way. The hay issue, while perhaps nothing more than a red herring, is being framed in the exact same way – small independent producers vs. big, evil, multinational corporations.

If a non-issue can be traded for a real one in a politically treacherous environment for all politicians, then it might actually be astute maneuvering by R-CALF.