The following is a press release from R-CALF USA:
Billings, Mont. – Arriving from over 20 states, nearly 200 U.S. cattle-producing members of R-CALF USA participated in the group’s two-day 12th Annual Convention held August 26-27 in Rapid City, South Dakota. Along with catching up with old acquaintances, members discussed the most critical issues affecting their livelihoods, rural communities and industry and developed new member-policies to direct the advocacy operations of R-CALF USA.
Discussions centered on the status of R-CALF USA’s many accomplishments since the group’s formation just a little over a decade ago. Those accomplishments include the 2002 passage and 2008 implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL), the 2008 blocking of the mega-merger between the world’s largest beef packer (JBS-Brazil) and the nation’s fourth largest beef packer (National Beef Packing Co.), the three court-ordered injunctions the group won between 2004 and 2008 to prevent the premature importation of Canadian beef and cattle following Canada’s detection of mad cow disease, the 2010 stopping of the ill-conceived National Animal Identification System (NAIS), and the 2010 publication of the proposed competition rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), known as the GIPSA rule.
Members adamantly expressed their belief that the implementation of the GIPSA rule is the most critical first step in correcting the 15 market failures identified by R-CALF USA. The group believes those 15 market failures are caused by an erosion of market competition and inappropriate trade polices that facilitate the ongoing contraction of the U.S. cattle industry. The group says that in just the past 30 years over half a million U.S. cattle operations exited the industry, the U.S. cattle herd shrank to historic low levels, and the industry remains unable to produce enough beef to meet domestic beef demand.
Responding to a leaked decision by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which reportedly ruled against the United States COOL law following complaints by Canada, Mexico, and several other foreign countries, members passed a Special Order of Business that describes the WTO ruling as an attack on United States sovereignty. The Special Order of Business states, “If the reported, preliminary ruling against the United States’ COOL law stands as the official ruling of the WTO, and should the WTO attempt to demand any form of concession from the United States as a condition for the United States to continue to exercise its sovereign right to inform its citizens as to the country-of-origin of their food through its 2002 COOL law as amended in 2008, R-CALF USA will call on Congress and the President of the United States to immediately withdraw from and not support the World Trade Organization.”
In response to new issues and political changes that occurred since their last convention, members passed several policy resolutions that must now be sent in a mail-out ballot to the thousands of cattle-owning R-CALF USA members in 46 states for their ratification or rejection. New policy initiatives and recommended changes to the group’s existing member-policies include:
Four new policies regarding the Beef Checkoff Program:
1. A resolution to prohibit any checkoff funds from being used to finance the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance – an organization R-CALF USA members describe as not being in the best interests of U.S. cattle producers.
2. In response to information indicating the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) received a $2 million, interest-free loan from the Beef Checkoff Program, a resolution to prohibit the use of checkoff funds for making loans to contractors and require the Agriculture Secretary to order the immediate repayment of all outstanding loans with interest.
3. A resolution to require the Office of Inspector General to conduct a full and complete audit of the Beef Checkoff Program every 5 years.
4. A resolution to level the playing field among all potential Beef Checkoff Program contractors by requiring all potential contractors to include all implementation fees and total costs in their authorization requests.
Two new policies regarding animal identification:
1. A resolution to oppose USDA’s proposed Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule because it removes the hot-iron brand and tattoos from the list of official animal identification devices.
2. A resolution that states the new ADT rule is just as onerous as the previous NAIS.
A new policy that addresses recent efforts by federal and state departments of transportation to enforce unreasonable and non-traditional vehicle regulations on U.S. cattle producers, including unreasonable and non-traditional limits on time in service, unreasonable and non-traditional safety inspections when loaded with livestock, and unreasonable and non-traditional weight restrictions.
A change to the group’s position on the estate tax or death tax that would call for the repeal of that tax.
Special presentations at the convention included a session on State Sovereignty: The Original Concept by historian Steven Pratt; a session on Marketing Retail Beef in Hostile Times by R-CALF USA Director Darol Dickinson, who operates a successful retail beef business on his Ohio ranch; an estate planning session on When the legacy is Land by Rapid City, S.D. R-CALF USA member and certified financial planner Don Hausle; and a tribute to former R-CALF USA Director, the late Johnny Smith, of Fort Pierre, S.D., delivered by Willie Cowan of Ft Pierre Livestock Auction, Ft. Pierre, S.D.
The convention also included in-depth panel discussions on international trade, animal identification, cattle marketing, food safety, COOL, animal health, and the Beef Checkoff Program, each of which was led by the chairs or members of the respective R-CALF USA working committees.
R-CALF USA President George Chambers said there is only one way to describe a convention filled with hard-working, serious cattle producers like he has in his organization. “It’s a convention of like-minded, determined people who are extraordinarily talented and seriously determined to chart a new and more promising course for the U.S. cattle industry.”
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 46 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.
Source: R-CALF USA
Posted by Haylie Shipp