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Cattlemen roll up their sleeves at summer meeting

Trade, fake meat, ELD mandate, FMD vaccine bank topics of discussions.

More than 700 of the nation’s cattle industry leaders, representing National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. (NCBA), Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board, American National CattleWomen and National Cattlemen’s Foundation, gathered in Denver, Colo., last week for the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting.

The NCBA board of directors formally adopted policy positions on issues like international trade, the regulation of fake meat, and modernizing the Endangered Species Act.

“America’s top cattle producers came together this week and worked hard to ensure that our industry continues to provide the world with the best, safest, and most nutritious protein possible,” said NCBA president Kevin Kester.

Highlights of the week included an update and Q&A session with U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach and a discussion with Tyson chief executive officer Tom Hayes.

Joint committees and subcommittees met to develop proposals for 2019 checkoff-funded research, education and promotion programs, and the NCBA policy committees also met to determine priorities and discuss strategies for the coming year.

“I want to thank all of the producers who took time away from their busy operations this week to work for the betterment of our industry,” Kester said. “We’ve made a lot of progress already this year, and we’re ready to continue working for the proper regulation of fake meat, legislation that finally modernizes the Endangered Species Act, and a final Farm Bill that includes all of our priorities.”

Allison Rivera, NCBA executive director of government affairs, said several issues were on the minds of attendees, who showed up ready to work.

“There’s a lot on the plate right now, and there’re a lot of things that we’re trying to tackle,” she said, adding that everyone seemed to be in “a get-things-done” kind of mood.

She explained that the meeting provides a platform for people to offer up new policies as well as address current issues.

“As we see different things come up with the Administration or just in the industry, this is a way for people to address those issues and put policy on the books so that the DC team can move forward with a straight directive to know exactly what message we’re supposed to be delivering to the agencies and the Administration, and on Capitol Hill.”

Trade is, of course, at the top of the list of concerns, but Rivera said other topics like fake meat, the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate and the foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank were also top-of-mind. And, while the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) issue isn’t as high of a priority this year as some of the other issues, Rivera said NCBA is still working on it.

“We continue to stay in good communication with EPA and the rest of the Administration as well as Capitol Hill,” she said. “There are a lot of members on both the Democrat and Republican side that want to fix this issue and make sure that we’re in a good space as we move forward. I think our relationship with EPA has been solid and the door is open to us and we’re certainly having all of the conversations over there that we need to be having.”

John Robinson, NCBA vice president for membership and communications, said the organization’s membership has increased to nearly 25,000 members this year, which is about 1,000 people ahead of where membership levels were a year ago.

“The marching orders we get from our grassroots members drive our policy in Washington, DC. When we’re successful there, people are more than happy to join NCBA, and I think that trend continues in a very positive fashion for the organization,” Robinson said.

He added, “The Trump Administration has been great for the cattle industry, and I think the fact that we’re able to work so closely with the Administration to advance our policies has been really good for both NCBA and members out in the country.”

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