The Cattlemens Capitol Concerns is a weekly publication from Washington DC about issues facing cattlemen.
Update on BSE in Canada: NCBA is continuing to monitor the situation in Canada where a case of BSE in an Alberta cow was announced on May 20. We are communicating with government officials in the U.S. and Canada on a daily basis as the investigation continues. Our staff continues to respond to a flurry of media inquiries each day, as new information arises. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association announced May 25 that the first test results on the index herd (the herd in which the infected cow resided at time of slaughter, which included 187 head of cattle) were all negative. Additional results are expected soon. For daily updates and news stories on the current situation, go to hill.beef.org/news. You may also visit our BSE scientific information resource: www.BSEinfo.org.
Bush Signs Tax Package: President Bush signed a bold $350 billion tax relief package on May 28. NCBA CEO Terry Stokes attended the signing at the White House. The package contains a number of growth incentives and tax breaks which will benefit small businesses, farmers and ranchers, but does not include the Rancher HELP Act provision which would allow for the extended deferral of capital gains from drought related sales of livestock. Our D.C.teamwill continue to look for a suitable legislative vehicle to carry this provision, and we will work to extend the tax breaks contained in the current package and make them permanent.
Mexican Trade: Gregg Doud, NCBA's Chief Economist, Eric Davis, Idaho producer and NCBA President, and Dana Hauck, Kansas feedlot operator and Co-Chair of NCBA's U.S/Mexico Cross-Border Working Group, are in Mexico this week. The group is meeting with Mexican trade and agriculture officials and producer groups to further discuss the on-going trade dispute. As a result of NAFTA, Mexico has become the U.S.'s largest export market, on a volume basis. These meetings demonstrate our keen interest in working with the Mexican cattle industry on trade issues, and resolving any concerns which may threaten our trading relationship.
Nutrition in the News: NCBA's Vice President of Government Affairs, Chandler Keys, was invited to appear on national television this week to discuss nutrition policy and obesity issues on Capitol Hill. The program, CNBC's Capital Report, ran at 9 p.m. EST on May 27. Chandler was interviewed on-set, explaining the benefits of eating beef and priorities for the cattle industry on Capitol Hill. Other guests included Dan Glickman, Former Agriculture Secretary; and Steven Grover, National Restaurant Association.
Irradiation Update: The USDA announced May 29, the inclusion of irradiated ground beef in the National School Lunch program. The product will be available for schools to order in January 2004. NCBA supports the use of irradiation technologies as one of many safety measures that further improves the safety of food products. We support USDA's plan to let each school system decide whether to purchase and serve irradiated beef products.
Death Tax: NCBA policy staff is gearing up for a vote on the Death Tax Permanency Act of 2003, (H.R.57) on June 18th. This legislation, introduced by Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) has grown to 188 co-sponsors. Producers are encouraged to contact their Representatives, share their own personal Death Tax stories, and urge them to sign on to H.R. 57. NCBA represents generations of ranching families across the U.S. who are struggling to hold on to their family ranches. Please reply to this email with your personal stories.
Country of Origin Labeling: U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) introduced the Farm Commodity Fair Labeling Act of 2003 (H.R. 2270) on May 23, which would amend the country-of-origin labeling requirements passed in the 2002 Farm Bill to include poultry and goat meat. Currently, poultry and goat are the only two types of meat which are not required to be labeled with their country of origin - an exclusion which Thornberry says not only does not make sense, but is also unfair. The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.
In related news, no USDA listening sessions are planned for this week. The next sessions are planned for: June 4 - Cody, WY; June 6 - Billings, MT; June 12 - Sacramento, CA; June 19 - Baton Rouge, LA; June 24 - St. Paul, MN; June 26 - Lancaster, PA. Meetings will be held 1-4p.m. local time. Producers are encouraged to attend. More information is available at http://www.ams.usda.gov/cool/.
Congressman Endorses PETA: NCBA, along with a coalition of animal livestock groups, sent a letter to Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) expressing their disappointment in Moran's sponsorship of a May 20 press conference coordinated by the People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and Moran's endorsement of PETA's recent "Meet Your Meat" video, which urges consumers to adopt a vegetarian diet. The letter explains that the video footage is out of context, old, and little is representative of today's standard and usual farm and ranch practices.
Livestock Marketing Study: Gregg Doud and NCBA's Director of Legislative Affairs Bryan Dierlam met with staff at USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to discuss the status of GIPSA's Livestock and Meat Marketing study. The $4.5 million study was mandated by Congress last year and will analyze the livestock industries across all sectors, to identify business models that will be successful in the future and areas of concern/ potential weaknesses in our current marketing structure.
Cattleman Appointed to Committee: Illinois Cattle Producer James "Jaime" Willrett is one of five new members appointed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Advisory Committee on Emerging Markets, USDA Secretary Ann Veneman announced last week. Willrett will represent cattlemen across the country as he makes recommendations to the federal government on how to enhance agricultural exports to emerging markets. NCBA nominated Jaime, who has a deep understanding of the importance of international markets to the U.S. economy, and is thrilled about this announcement.
New Zealand Officials: NCBA's Washington D.C. office hosted officials from the New Zealand Embassy on May 29. The group discussed current trade and food safety issues, such as animal health and SPS. These meetings are a continuation of ongoing meetings with staff of the Washington office to continue to build our working relationships with international trade/agriculture officials in New Zealand.
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