MSU Extension sets March 10 workshop on agricultural resiliency

BOZEMAN – Montana State University Extension in Gallatin County will host the workshop “Building Resiliency in Agriculture,” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, March 10, at the Gallatin County Extension office, located at 903 N. Black Ave., Bozeman.

The workshop aims to improve farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to respond to variability and extremes in agricultural operations. Topics will include past, present and future climate; flexible stocking rates; emerging crops; weed management; irrigation efficiency and soil moisture measurement; and financial resiliency.

To register, contact Emily Lockard, MSU Extension agriculture agent, or Brad Bauer, MSU Extension natural resources agent, at (406) 582-3280, gallatin@montana.edu. Attendees can also register at the Extension office in Bozeman. The workshop costs $10 and includes lunch.

For more information, see: http://www.gallatinextension.com.

Grown in Montana Features State’s Top 10 Agriculture Products

Image via Grown in Montana

Image via Grown in Montana

Montana is definitely the beef state and that is confirmed by an article in Montana Department of Agriculture’s recent Grown in Montana publication.

Cattle and Calves make up the largest of agricultural commodities in Montana (based on 2013 cash receipts), with more than 2,550,000 cattle bringing over $1.5 billion to the state’s economy. Beaverhead and Fergus counties lead the state in the number of all calves and beef calves born in the state, respectively.

What about the state’s agricultural commodities? Here is a Top 10 list:

  1. Cattle and calves – Did you know, there are more than 2.5 cattle for every person living in Montana?
  2. Wheat – Montana ranks No. 3 in the nation for wheat production. This crop brings $1.4 billion in cash receipts to the state with more than 5,400,000 acres planted.
  3. Hay – Montana ranks as 4th in the nation for hay production with an economic impact of $753,480,000 in cash receipts. Alfalfa makes up a large portion of this crop valued at an average $141 per ton.
  4. Barley – In 2013, this cropped reached its highest production value in more than a century and is used for malting or feed. 990,000 acres bring in cash receipts of more than $283 million. Teton county leads the nation in barley production with 7,670,000 bushels. Montana leads the nation in number of barley acres planted.
  5. Image via Grown in Montana

    Image via Grown in Montana

    Dry Peas – This pulse crop hit records with 520,000 acres planted in 2014 and $96 million in cash receipts. Montana ranks number 1 in the nation for dry peas and lentils production.

  6. Sugar Beats – Montana ranks No.6 in the nation for sugar beet production. In 2013, 1,250,000 tons were harvested from 42,800 acres, drawing $92,895,000 in cash receipts.
  7. Hogs – Montana hogs recently hit prices not seen in more than a decade, with an average value of $145 per head. In 2012, the state had cash receipts of more than $64,109,000 from pig farming.
  8. Milk – The average milk produced from Montana dairy cows comes out to 21,286 pounds annually, consuming a total of 3 million pounds of feed. The dairy business brings $55,165,000 in cash receipts to the Montana economy.
  9. Potatoes – Idaho may be most famous as the potato state, but did you know Big Sky Country produces its fair share of seed potatoes? The crop tallies up to $44,389,000 for Montana farmers on 11,000 acres.
  10. Honey – This sweet treat lands Montana in the No. 2 slot nationally. Montana is home to 160,000 bee colonies, doubling production in 2013 with a value of over $31 million.

Learn more about Montana agriculture and read stories behind the state’s farmers and ranchers in Grown in Montana – “a guide to the state’s top crops, livestock, agribusiness, tourism, food safety and local products – by visiting this link from the Montana Department of Agriculture.

Now Available: Grown in Montana Magazine – Farming and Ranching under the Big Sky

grown in montana agricultureHelena, Mont., Last Friday, Governor Steve Bullock announced the publication of the first edition of the ‘Grown in Montana’ magazine at the Made in Montana Trade Show.  The announcement was made in conjunction with the Main Street Montana Project to promote Montana agricultural products to local, national, and international markets.

“This is part of our efforts with the Main Street Montana Project to promote agricultural products grown right here under the Big Sky. It covers some of the mainstays of Montana agriculture like beef, wheat, and barley, while featuring stories on agriculture innovation at Montana State University and the local food movement spurred by activities at University of Montana,” said Governor Steve Bullock.

The magazine highlights a few of the accomplishments of our agricultural sector including becoming the leading producer of dry peas and lentils. It also features the demand for Montana’s high quality wheat as improvement wheat, which is blended with wheat grown elsewhere in order to improve the overall quality.

“This is a great way to share Montana agriculture’s story with consumers, buyers, and trade partners. It is no secret that our farmers and ranchers produce some of the highest quality agricultural products in the world. People can now read about the demand our high quality beef and beef genetics garner in international markets among other great agricultural stories,” said Main Street Montana Food & Agriculture Key Industry Network Co-Chair and Rancher Jim Peterson.

The annual publication was made at no cost to the department through advertisement sales. It will be distributed to international trade partners, agriculture organizations, extension offices, state economic development offices, local libraries, and other interested parties. The publication can be viewed online at www.MTagriculture.com or hard copies of the magazine can be requested by contacting the department of agriculture at agr@mt.gov or (406) 444- 3144.

The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries. For more information on the Montana Department of Agriculture, visit www.agr.mt.gov.

MSU to Host Annual Agricultural Economics Outlook Conference Nov. 7

montana state extension logoMontana State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics and MSU Extension will host an annual Agricultural Economics Outlook Conference Friday, Nov. 7.

This year’s conference, “Montana Agriculture: Current Issues and the Role of Agriculture Research,” will run from 8:30 a.m.-noon in the Procrastinator Theater in MSU’s Strand Union Building. The program will feature MSU faculty experts on agricultural policy, the Montana economy and livestock and grain markets.

The conference’s keynote speaker, Philip Pardey, will address the changing landscape of U.S. global research for food and agriculture.Pardey is professor of applied economics at the University of Minnesota and director of the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy Center.

“Dr. Philip Pardey is internationally recognized as the world’s leading expert on the economic effects of agriculture research and development,” said Vincent Smith, MSU professor of economics and event organizer. “His work has been funded by several international and national research institutions, and he is the go-to person on the global role of agricultural research that changes and improves lives.”

The conference, which is part of MSU’s Celebrate Agriculture weekend, is also designed to provide agricultural business leaders, agricultural bankers, producers and others in agriculture with quality, unbiased information about issues facing Montana agriculture.

“The outlook conference is an outstanding example of MSU’s commitment to the land-grant mission of bringing high-quality, relevant research findings to the citizens of Montana,” said Jeff Bader, director of MSU Extension. “The event brings important insights about the current standing and future of agriculture from a research perspective, which is always appreciated by our stakeholders.”

During the conference, MSU agricultural economics experts will present information as follows:

  • Kate Fuller will discuss the status of Montana agriculture.
  • Joe Janzen will discuss high frequency trading in agricultural futures markets.
  • Tim Fitzgerald will discuss the importance of oil and gas royalties for Montana agricultural producers.
  • Eric Belasco will discuss the livestock disaster aid program.
  • Gary Brester will discuss changes in the U.S. Fertilizer landscape.

Following lunch, MSU Extension Specialist Marsha Goetting will host a two-hour, in-depth workshop, “Transferring Your Farm or Ranch to the Next Generation.”

Registration for the conference is $25. Those who register by Wednesday, Oct. 29, will receive a free parking pass. For more information or to register please visit http://www.ampc.montana.edu/fallconference.html.

A full schedule of events for the Celebrate Agriculture weekend event is available at:http://ag.montana.edu/excellence/agappreciation.htm.

Addressing Antibiotic Resistance and Livestock Use

Antibiotics Use Livestock ResistanceFor many Americans purchasing food products at local grocery stores and retailers, there has been a growing movement to learn more about where our food comes from. Many food consumers have been asking to know who produces their food and under what conditions it was raised. Many people are asking for more transparency from food companies in order to learn more about the farming and ranching practices in place. As members of the farming and ranching community, we have a vital role in providing that information.

One of the more frequently discussed topics among food customers today is about the role of antibiotics use in livestock systems. As livestock producers, we understand there are variety of tools used on farms, ranches and feedlots which include vaccines, good nutrition programs and proper housing to keep animals healthy. Antibiotics are only one tool in a plan of good production practices to raise healthy animals. We also understand the importance of judicious use of these tools to keep them effective for animal health, food safety, costs, and proper management.

Last week, PBS Frontline aired an episode focused on the use of antibiotics and questions surrounding the cause of increasing antibiotic resistance in the human population. Though there are several possible sources for this medical trend, livestock were focused on as a possible cause. As members of the livestock we understand the continual to improve the way we utilize tools such as antibiotics, but we may not always communicate that clearly. It is a cooperation between local producers, veterinarians and federal officials who collaborate to improve our methods with food safety in mind.

With that in mind, we have a few points to address on the issue of antibiotic use in food animals and it’s relation to food safety. To learn more about these topics, be sure to consult your local veterinarian and be sure to share examples of how you ensure judicious and responsible antibiotic use on your livestock operation.

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is incredibly complex and it’s rare for a strain of bacteria from our food supply to be resistant to antibiotics. 

  • Antibiotic resistance occurs when antibiotics attack the majority of bacteria but a few may survive and “mutate” or adapt to the drugs in ways that help them resist treatment by the same drug in the future.
  • The vast majority of antibiotic resistant bacteria are non-foodborne, emerging decades ago in hospital settings or communities and are not linked to animals in our food system.
  • There are occasional cases of antibiotic resistant foodborne bacteria, such as antibiotic resistant salmonella, but those cases are rare.

The chance a person becomes ill from antibiotic resistant foodborne bacteria and not being able to be treated with alternative antibiotics is slim, with many safeguards built in to keep it from happening, such as responsible antibiotic use, research and surveillance.

  • In order for foodborne bacteria to become resistant and impact human health, the bacteria would have to develop a resistant animal strain, survive food processing and handling, proper cooking and find a human with an illness/weakened immune system as the host, survive the human’s body (which will naturally fight the bacteria) and result in a human seeking treatment with the same antibiotic that was used to treat the animal. If antibiotic resistant bacteria were to cause human illness, it means that the standard treatment doesn’t work and that other treatments may have to be considered. So, people becoming ill from antibiotic resistant foodborne bacteria and not being able to be treated in some manner, is extremely rare.  

Farmers, ranchers, veterinarians and animal health experts work together to make sure they’re using antibiotics responsibly, in order to reduce the chances of antibiotic resistance forming. 

In the animal agriculture industry, we work hard to stop the potential formation of antibiotic resistant bacteria by using antibiotics responsibly:

  • Identify the right illness that the animal has by consulting with animal health experts and veterinarians when necessary
  • Pinpoint the right treatment and dose needed to treat that specific illness, condition or concern
  • Administer the antibiotic for the right amount of time by following the law and clear label instructions (not stopping antibiotics early, which is a threat for antibiotic resistance in humans)
  • Conduct the right research to make sure that we continue to protect both animal and human health

Continued research on antibiotic resistance is needed to fully understand antibiotic resistance and address questions about multiple resistance, or co-resistance, which is when bacteria become resistant to several different types or classes of antibiotics and the agriculture community is committed to being part of this important research and dialogue.

  • The agricultural community is proactively working to minimize future risk and continuing to conduct research to look at this important topic.
  • Everyone – farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, doctors, the government, researchers and companies working in animal or human medicine – needs to work collaboratively to protect animal and human health.
  • The agricultural industry is committed to looking at any and all opportunities to mitigate antibiotic resistance in order to make sure we’re continuing to improve the way we use these very important tools.

Antibiotic Use in the Livestock Industry

We can all agree that healthy animals are the basis of a healthy, humane and safe food supply.

  • When antibiotics are used, they are used judiciously to keep the potential risk extremely low of developing antibiotic resistant bacteria that is harmful to people.
  • The beef community has invested in quality assurance programs, research and education designed to maintain high standards of animal care and health and to help us continuously improve how we use antibiotics.
  • Farmers and ranchers have no reason to overuse antibiotics but rather every reason to use them as selectively as possible. For one, it’s the law, but antibiotics also are a costly input for the small business men and women who raise cattle for beef.
  • If farmers did not treat sick animals, many would suffer and die.  This would be inhumane.

The livestock community, including farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, the federal government and the animal health companies that make antibiotics, proactively are working together to continuously improve the way we responsibly use antibiotics in livestock.

  • Changes in FDA Guidance 209 and 213 that will eliminate growth promotion uses of medically important antibiotics and extend veterinary oversight.
  • Within about four years, any medically important antibiotics used in animals will only be for therapeutic purposes and under the supervision of a veterinarian.

To learn more about the use of antibiotics in livestock production, visit with a local veterinarian or find a farmer or rancher in the area to ask their perspectives. You can also find more online tools and information at these links:

Young Ag Leadership Conference Kicks off with Agriculture Tour

YALC Young Ag Leadership Conference MontanaThe 2014 Young Ag Leadership Conference was off to a great start on Friday as young farmers and ranchers from across Montana converged upon Bozeman for an impressive lineup of speakers over the weekend.

Friday night was highlighted by dinner and a movie as the film, Farmland, was shown. The James Moll documentary features young farmers and ranchers from across the country as they encounter challenges making a living in modern agriculture. The film is available for viewing free on Hulu this month. Learn more in yesterday’s blog post.

Prior to the opening dinner session, YALC hosted its first every bus tour of local businesses to acquaint attendees with agricultural-related businesses they may not encounter on a regular basis.

The tour’s first stop was the Madison River Brewing Company in Belgrade. Started in 2004, the Brewery has been a growing establishment in the Gallatin Valley craft brew scene. On the tour, YALC participants learned more about the process of turning locally sourced grains into beer. The tour described the process of utilizing the sugars available in grains, combining them with other ingredients like hops and yeast to make the recipe for popular local craft brews. The spent grains (brewer’s mash) is then given to local livestock producers as a high quality by-product feed.

YALC Friday Tour Madison River Brewery2

The next stop for the YALC tour visited the Montana Gluten Free Processing facilities in Belgrade. MT Gluten Free produces food products for consumers who are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. They have a few individually labeled products, including baking mix, pancake or waffle mix, dessert mixes, and raw oatmeal. Most of their products are made from oats, which are grown in Montana, mostly in the Gallatin Valley. 90% of their products are sold domestically in states like California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado. Israel is their largest export market. The gluten free products are part of a growing trend for value-added agriculture products in the state of Montana.

YALC Friday Tour Gluten Processing5

The YALC tour wrapped up with a short drive to the Leep Dairy Farm near Toston (local newspaper feature from 2009). The dairy is one of the larger in the state, milking nearly 750 cows. The Leep dairy farm is operated by a father and two sons and is the only dairy in Broadwater County. Their milk goes primarily to liquid markets (meaning for liquid consumption, not used to make cheese, butter, or similar products) sold under the Dairygold label, which is a farmer-owned. Their products can be found in grocery chains such as Costco, Walmart, and many others in the Northwest.

YALC Friday Tour Leep Dairy Shane

According to the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture, there are only 92 dairies in the state of Montana, ranking fifth in agricultural products with 1.1% of the state’s agricultural sales. The Montana climate is ideal for dairy cows. The animals are able to stay cool in the summer and during the winter, enclosed barns are able to keep the cows comfortable and warm despite the sometimes-harsh weather. A limiting factor for Montana dairy farm growth is capacity for processing their products. There is no large cheese or specialty processing facility nearby.

The Leeps are very cognizant of keeping their animals, milk and environment safe. The farm uses mostly local forages for their silage. All of their solid and liquid wastes (manure and run-off water) are collected; solids composted, and used as fertilizer for neighboring farms. In turn, the Leeps are able to cooperate with the local farms to grow better forage crops for their cattle. All milk from cows treated with antibiotics or other medicines is discarded and every load of milk is tested for safety before it enters the milk supply chain. The farm is very aware of public concerns of animal welfare in the dairy business and continually works with their co-op, inspectors, and employees to make sure tasks on the farm are completed correctly and the animals are treated humanely.

YALC Friday Tour Leep Dairy Parlor

The Young Ag Leadership Conference continues through Sunday morning in Bozeman. Participants will attend several workshops and participate in discussion panels on various topics including row crop farming, livestock issues, local food, property rights, and many more. To follow online, use the hashtag #YALC2014. View more photos on the Montana Stockgrowers Association Facebook Page.

Farmland Film Premiers on Hulu

Image via FarmlandFilm.com

Image via FarmlandFilm.com

Everyone has a food choice. Some prefer convenience while others seek out and desire products from niche markets. Either way, we know that farmers and ranchers across the country grow that food. Production Agriculture in this country has been an aging population as many members of the older generation hang on to the operations for longer periods of time.

However, a new documentary film, Farmland, chooses to focus on the younger generation who has returned to the land, carrying on the traditions of older generations, while at the same time, figuring out how to make their own marks on farming and ranching. Farmland, which was in theaters this past summer with only a few showings in the state of Montana, is now available free on Hulu for a limited time. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to watch the film and it’s definitely worth an hour of your time.

Farmland explores the challenges that coming with being a young person in agriculture, following 6 individuals who range from a Texas cattle rancher, pig, poultry, row crop and CSA and organic vegetable farmers. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film and what additional challenges you believe families encounter while trying to pass the farm or ranch to the next generation.

Encourage your friends and neighbors to watch the film, especially those who don’t have the opportunity to experience agriculture first-hand. See what their opinions are and use it as an opportunity for discussion on how things look moving forward in the farming and ranching business.

We’ll be showing the film tonight at the Young Ag Leadership Conference in Bozeman. It’ll be interesting to see what comments surface after that groups watches the documentary.

Daines Discusses Issues With Montana Agriculture Groups

Congressman Steve Daines answers questions from local television reporters prior to a meeting with Montana agricultural groups at the Stockgrowers office on August 7, 2014

Congressman Steve Daines answers questions from local television reporters prior to a meeting with Montana agricultural groups at the Stockgrowers office on August 7, 2014

Things were busy as we had several visitors at the office on Thursday afternoon, August 7. Congressman Steve Daines stopped by the Montana Stockgrowers’ office as a part of his agricultural tour across the state during the legislative August recess.

Daines met with a number of representatives from Montana’s agricultural coalition to discuss priority issues that are of concern for the state’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Representatives from the Grain Growers Association, Agricultural Business Association, Grain Elevators, Montana Livestock Ag Credit were on hand for the meeting. Stockgrowers staff also represented Public Lands Council and the Association of State Grazing Districts.

Each group had the opportunity to bring forward issues affecting their membership in an effort to help Daines stay up-to-date on critical matters impacting the state’s rural residents. Topics discussed included:

  • EPA’s Waters of the U.S. proposed ruling and its impact on farmers and ranchers across the state. Daines noted that this has been the number one issue for the agriculture community as he has traveled across the state. (Click here for MSGA’s preliminary analysis)
  • The importance of neonicotinoids use as a seed treatment and crop protectant for wheat growers was a concern, especially as it relates to criticisms of being associated with declining beef populations.
  • Grain elevators are concerned about increased inspections and fines imposed from OSHA. Elevator operators appreciate the emphasis on safety, but would like to see more cooperation from OSHA on compliance issues and information.
  • Rail transportation for grain growers across the state continues to be an issue of great importance as competition increases for exporting the state’s commodities. Rail backlogs, price competition, and union strikes at sea ports continue to put a strain on moving grain, especially as summer and fall harvests progress.
  • Implementation of Farm Bill programs through FSA offices continues to be a priority for farmers and ranchers across the state. Importance is placed on information sharing between FSA and producers to make sure available programs are implemented in a timely manner.
  • As cattle prices continue to reach record levels, access to operating capital is a growing concern for producers and banking institutions. Importance in placed on making sure banking and financial regulations are not a burden on banks being able to provide for their customers.
  • For cattle and sheep producers across the state, cooperation with federal agencies is important for access to grazing lands. Producers want to ensure their allotments are not threatened by retirement of the agreements.
  • Listing of the sage grouse as an Endangered Species continues to concern the state’s ranchers. Montana’s state sage grouse plan is due out this Fall and the state needs time to implement the plan and have time to showcase the effects before 2015 implementation of the federal rule.
  • Management of weed control, along with conifer and sagebrush encroachment on rangelands continues to be an important issue for grazing allotments on U.S. Forest Service lands. Concerns were raised about USFS budgets for these issues and allowance for wildfire control to be treated partially as natural disaster budget issues.

Prior to meeting at the Stockgrowers office in Helena, Congressman Daines spent the morning with Townsend rancher, Dusty Hahn. Hahn gave Daines a hands-on look at issues affecting central Montana ranches, including grazing leases on private and public lands, management of irrigation projects and raising livestock on a family operation.

The Montana Stockgrowers looks forward to continued work with all of our Congressional leadership and cooperative efforts with all members of the state’s agriculture coalition to address issues affecting Montana’s farming and ranching communities.

To learn more about our legislative and policy efforts, visit mtbeef.org or contact the MSGA office in Helena, (406) 442-3420.

Are you the Face of Farming and Ranching? | Beef Briefs

Did you know … USFRA is seeking new ‘Faces of Farming & Ranching?’

Beef Briefs Faces of Farming USFRAIn an effort to help put a real face on agriculture, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) will begin looking for the new “Faces of Farming & Ranching” later this year. The organization will select standout farmers and ranchers who are proud of what they do, eager to and active in sharing their stories in pubic and on social media. To apply, visit Faces of Farming & Ranching between July 10 and Aug. 10 and complete an application entry and short video. Finalists will be announced in early September, and each finalist will be profiled on FoodDialogues.com. The public will vote for their favorites in late October through early November. Winners will participate in activities including national media interviews, advertising and public appearances.

Learn more at www.MyBeefCheckoff.com
Beef Briefs is your monthly snapshot of beef checkoff news affecting the beef and dairy industries.
Provided by the great folks at the Montana Beef Council.

House Agriculture Committee Holds Hearing on the State of the Livestock Industry

House Agriculture Committee(via NCBA, Beltway Beef) The House Committee on Agriculture hosted a hearing last week to review the state of the livestock industry. Representing the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the North American Meat Association and Harris Ranch, Mike Smith came to D.C. to discuss the beef industry.

Smith works for Harris Ranch, one of the nation’s largest family-owned agribusinesses in the western United States. A diversified company, Harris Ranch feeds roughly 250,000 head of cattle each year and operates one of the largest feedlots in the U.S., as well as farming over 17,000 acres, operating one of the largest thoroughbred horse farms, and running a 150-room inn and restaurant complex.

Noting the hard times the beef industry has faced over the past few years, Smith discussed five issues directly impacting the industry: drought, federal regulations, taxes, trade and country-of-origin labeling.

Hailing from California, Smith said he is all too familiar with the lack of water plaguing the U.S. California is facing the worst drought in recorded history and federal and state regulations to restrict water allocation has only made the drought worse for farmers and ranchers. The Endangered Species Act severely restricts water access and has caused hardship for many producers across the country, Smith said.

“It’s not just the ongoing drought that is hurting our industry,” Smith said. “The onslaught of Federal rules and regulations continue to put pressure on the growth of America’s cattle herd. In California, we are already subject to more rules and regulations than any other cattle producing state. These state rules are compounded by the rules coming from agencies such as the EPA.”

EPA’s proposed rule to redefine the Waters of the United States has raised concerns about the expanding jurisdiction the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Under this proposal, it is likely some cattle producers will have to file for a permit to conduct activities on their private property.“Effectively, this amounts to a huge land grab by EPA and directly threatens long-established private property rights,” said Smith.

Another area of concern is transportation. Obsolete and ridiculous rules such as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “30-minute” rule endangers the welfare of livestock by stopping the airflow through the trailer, causing added stress to the cattle, said Smith. Similarly, by adding an additional axle, increased truck weights would allow more cattle to be shipped with fewer truck loads while causing less wear and tear on roads and bridges than there is now. Smith urged the Congress to address transportation reauthorization and look at ways to maximize shipping capabilities.

Addressing the issue of taxes, Smith said that is extremely important that Congress take urgent action to make permanent the tax extenders package made up of the tax provisions which expired in 2013 – particularly the section 179 at a level of $500,000. Section 179 allows producers to who purchase new equipment to depreciate the value quicker at a larger amount.

“We can’t talk about taxes without mentioning the Death Tax,” said Smith. “Even though Congress made improvements to the Death Tax provisions at the end if 2012, we still full repeal. In order to make sure that a future Congress does not revert back to the $1 million exemption, it is imperative that we finally repeal the Death Tax once and for all.”

Trade has been a top priority for the cattle industry. International markets give the mature and developed cattle industry more opportunity for expansion as countries with an increasing middle class have more disposable income and want a higher quality diet. Ongoing negotiations to conclude the Trans Pacific Partnership will define beef trade between the U.S. and Japan. Smith said support of a TPP deal should only come if the tariffs Japan is demanding are eliminated. Trade agreements are currently worth roughly $300 per head, nearly 20 percent of fed cattle’s overall value. Trade is important, and should be based on sound science, said Smith. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has proposed a rule that would allow certain states within Brazil to ship fresh and frozen beef into the United States. Smith explained that the issue is Brazil still has a problem with Foot-and-Mouth Disease, an economically devastating disease the U.S. eradicated in the early 1900’s.

Even more concerning, said Smith, is that APHIS does not seem to be adequately prepared for this proposed rule. Many of the documents used to formulate the proposed rule were in Portuguese with no translation and many of the documents requested through the Freedom of Information Act were not received.

Wrapping up his testimony, Smith explained the burden of country-of-origin labeling. Proponents of COOL have long said that mandatory labeling would cause the U.S. consumer to pay more for U.S. beef, but five years of implementation has proved the opposite. Kansas State University conducted a study on COOL which showed the vast majority of consumers do not even look at the COOL label when buying beef. On top of that, COOL has caused two of our largest trading partners to file a case with the World Trade Organization against the United States. If they win, they will be able to retaliate against the beef industry.

“If we lose access to those markets, or they are restricted by the enactment of tariffs, that will have a negative impact on all U.S. producers,” said Smith. “We remain perplexed why our government wants to hurt our industry for a simple marketing program that has proven to be ineffective. COOL is all about marketing and has absolutely nothing to do with food safety. Those who use that argument know nothing about the food safety protocols in this country.”

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