NCBA to Reiterate Unwavering Support for USDA Oversight of Lab-Grown Fake Meat

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) will highlight the food safety and product labeling expertise of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) during a two-day public meeting on lab-grown fake meat. The public meeting, hosted jointly by USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), takes place October 23-24. The meeting agenda lists a wide range of topics for consideration, including potential production hazards, food labeling, and marketing claims.

NCBA President Kevin Kester and President-Elect Jennifer Houston are scheduled to deliver remarks during the open comment periods of the session. Houston will explain why USDA is well-positioned to apply current food safety processes to lab-grown fake meat products. Two-thirds of the facilities already overseen by USDA are “processing-only” facilities where harvesting of animals does not take place.

“Ensuring lab-grown fake meat products are subject to strong, daily inspection by USDA’s trained professionals is essential,” she said. “The health of consumers is on the line, and USDA is far better suited to ensure the safety of lab-grown products.”

Kester will focus his comments on how USDA oversight provides protects consumers against false and misleading marketing claims.

“USDA can be trusted to enforce truthful, transparent labeling of the products under its jurisdiction,” he said. “Beef producers welcome competition, but product labels and marketing must be based on sound science, not the misleading claims of anti-animal agriculture activists.”

Livestock Groups Petition Department of Transportation for Hours of Service Flexibility

Today organizations representing livestock, bee, and fish haulers across the country submitted a petition to the Department of Transportation (DOT) requesting additional flexibility on Hours of Service (HOS) requirements. The petition asks for a five-year exemption from certain HOS requirements for livestock haulers and encourages DOT to work with the livestock industry to implement additional fatigue-management practices.

Current rules limit drive time to 11 hours and limit on-duty hours to 14. Instead, the organizations request that livestock haulers be granted approval to drive up to 15 hours with a 16-hour on-duty period, following a 10-hour consecutive rest period. Any livestock hauler wishing to operate under the extended drive time would be required to complete pre-trip planning and increased fatigue-management training.

“We are concerned that the 11- and 14-hour rules were not drafted with livestock haulers in mind and thus do not accommodate the unique character of their loads and nature of their trips,” the organizations wrote. The current requirements “place the well-being of livestock at risk during transport and impose significant burdens on livestock haulers, particularly in rural communities across the country.”

The strong safety record of livestock haulers demonstrates their ability to ensure the well-being of both live animals and other drivers on the road. A 2014 analysis by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that livestock haulers were underrepresented in truck-involved fatal crashes. Data cited in the petition also shows that, between 2013 and 2015, livestock haulers accounted for 6.6 percent of all commercial drivers but less than one percent of crashes involving large trucks.

Australia already implements rules for livestock haulers that focus on safety outcomes, not prescriptive limits. The petition encourages DOT to work with industry to develop and implement similar measures.

The petition was signed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Livestock Marketing Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association, and the National Aquaculture Association.

Source: NCBA Press Release

Concerns over “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act”

NCBA, PLC Concerns About “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act”

PLC/NCBA News Release – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council yesterday expressed reservations about H.R. 3400, the so-called “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act,” as the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee prepares to mark up the bill.

“We strongly support the principle of multiple use of public lands,” said Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and NCBAs Federal Lands. “That said, the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of favoring one use over another, and that’s what this legislation does as it’s currently written.”

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 requires multiple use on public lands. This means that every American has a place on public lands – whether a hiker, camper, cattle rancher or energy producer, Lane said.

The Bureau of Land Management’s definition includes managing public land resources for “a variety of uses, such as energy development, livestock grazing, recreation, and timber harvesting, while protecting a wide array of natural, cultural, and historical resources.”

Lane said that ranching is an essential element of multiple use because the practice easily coexists with other activities and does not preclude any of them from happening concurrently.

“Recreation should absolutely continue to be part of the multiple use of our public lands, but Washington shouldn’t go out of its way to promote it at the expense of other uses – like ranching.”

NCBA Lays Out Principles for Regulating Fake Meat

Today the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association submitted official comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlining key principles for the regulation of fake meat products. The comments, filed in response to Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Petition Number 18-01, encourage USDA to look beyond modifying “standards of identity” in order to provide adequate protection for beef producers and consumers.

“It is critical that the federal government step up to the plate and enforce fair and accurate labeling for fake meat,” said Kevin Kester, President of NCBA. “As long as we have a level playing field, our product will continue to be a leading protein choice for families in the United States and around the world.”

NCBA’s regulatory principles are designed to effectively address both plant-based and lab-grown imitation beef products. Specifically, NCBA:

1) Requests that USDA work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “take appropriate, immediate enforcement action against improperly-labeled imitation products.”

NCBA firmly believes the term beef should only be applicable to products derived from actual livestock raised by farmers and ranchers. For misbranded and mislabeled plant-based protein products, existing legislation gives FDA the authority to take enforcement actions. However, the agency has a history of failing to enforce labeling laws. Rather than expending time and resources to develop a standard of identity the FDA will blatantly ignore, NCBA requests USDA engage with FDA to facilitate immediate, appropriate enforcement actions against imitation meat product labels that clearly violate existing laws.

2) Urges USDA to “assert jurisdiction over foods consisting of, isolated from or produced from cell culture or tissue culture derived from livestock and poultry animals or their parts.” 

NCBA believes that USDA-FSIS is the agency best placed to regulate emerging lab-grown meat products. First, USDA-FSIS possesses the technical expertise and regulatory infrastructure to ensure perishable meat food products are safe for U.S. consumers. Lab-grown meat must comply with the same stringent food safety inspection standards as all other meat products.

Second, USDA-FSIS labeling standards provided greater protection against false and misleading marketing claims. Unlike the FDA, USDA-FSIS requires pre-approval of all labels before products hit the marketplace. This will ensure consistent labeling practices across all products, and prevent misleading marketing labels such as “clean meat.”

NCBA Applauds Another 90-Day Delay in Electronic Logging Device Mandate

Mandate Was To Have Taken Effect on Sunday, March 18

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester today issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s announcement that the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate will be delayed another 90 days for agricultural haulers:

“This is obviously good news for America’s cattle haulers and producers, and it will provide FMCSA (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) more time to educate our livestock haulers on the ELDs while industry works on solutions to the current Hours of Service rules that simply do not work for those hauling live animals.

“We would like to thank Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez for listening to our concerns and working with us to find a permanent, workable solution.”

NOTE: Click here to learn more about the ELD mandate and NCBA’s work on the issue.

Cattlemen Launch Monthlong Media Campaign for Comprehensive Tax Reform

NCBA Launches new website: CattlemenForTaxReform.com

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today kicked off a media and advertising campaign that will shine a spotlight on how various federal tax provisions impact America’s cattle and beef producers. The campaign, which will focus heavily on the death tax, aims to build support in Washington for comprehensive tax reform that makes our tax code fair for agricultural producers. The campaign will be centered around a new website,CattlemenForTaxReform.com, and will run through September.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact truly comprehensive tax reform, and we can’t afford to let this opportunity pass or to get it wrong,” said NCBA President and Nebraska cattleman Craig Uden. “Family ranchers and farmers deserve a full and permanent repeal of the onerous death tax, which charges them in cash on the often-inflated appraised value of their property and equipment. This campaign will shine a spotlight on the stories of real ranchers who have had to deal with this issue, and it will also highlight current tax provisions that we need to maintain, such as stepped-up basis, cash accounting, and deducibility of interest payments.”

In addition to the launch of the new website, the campaign kicked off with a two-minute video that will be heavily promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. The campaign’s first video features fifth-generation California rancher Kevin Kester, whose family struggled for a decade to pay a large death-tax bill after his grandfather passed away. With the specter of the death tax still looming, Kevin is forced to spend precious time and energy – not to mention thousands of dollars – planning for how to pass the ranch on to his children and grandchildren.

“Without a doubt the biggest challenge that keeps me up at night is trying to figure out how to pass the ranching operation – our family operation on to the next generation,” Kester says in the video as he drives across his Bear Valley Ranch near Parkfield, Calif. “The current tax code is…leading toward more fragmentation of farms and ranches, which is not good for the environment or our ranchers and farmers.”

Over the coming weeks, NCBA will roll out several other promoted videos and infographics featuring profiles of ranchers and other members of the cattle-production community. The products will enable American cattlemen and women to share their priorities for tax reform in their own words. The campaign will also connect grassroots ranchers and producers with their elected officials on Capitol Hill as tax-reform legislation is considered this autumn.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there on the tax debate – especially when it comes to who’s affected by the death tax,” Uden said. “This campaign will educate elected officials, the media, and the general public about how the tax code affects our American farmers and ranchers, who literally feed the world.”

Chairman of CFTC to Headline Stockgrowers’ Midyear Meeting

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) has confirmed J. Christopher Giancarlo, acting Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Midyear Meeting held in Great Falls, May 30 – June 1.

“We are excited to have someone as knowledgeable and respected as Chairman Giancarlo joining us for Midyear,” noted MSGA President Bryan Mussard of Dillon, MT. “We look forward to the insight he will share with our members surrounding the recent cattle market volatility and his outlook on the futures market.”

The Midyear Meeting is one of two meetings that is held during the year to set association policy. This year’s meeting is held in conjunction with the Montana Ag Summit; hosted and co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Steve Daines. The summit will bring the nation’s agricultural leaders to Montana, including newly confirmed Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.

Other Midyear highlights include an update from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; policy meetings; a Tuberculosis update from Montana State Veterinarian, Dr. Marty Zaluski; and a reception held by the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation featuring music by Kyle Shobe and & the Walk ‘Em Boys.

To register or for more information visit www.mtbeef.org or call 406-442-3420.

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The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: NCBA, PLC Accepting Fall Law Clerk Applications

WASHINGTON (May 2, 2017) – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C., has extended the law clerk application deadline for the 2017 fall semester. The new deadline to submit an application for the position is June 1, 2017.

NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall said that the law clerk position is a great opportunity for students with an interest in legislation and regulations concerning the beef industry.

“The clerkship gives law students the opportunity to work closely with NCBA’s environmental counsel and the executive director of the Public Lands Council on a wide range of regulatory issues that impact beef producers across the country,” Woodall said. “The law clerk position provides law students a one-of-a-kind view into the policy-making process while working as a valuable team member assisting the staff on several fronts.”

Producer-led and consumer-focused, NCBA is the nation’s oldest and largest national organization representing America’s cattle producers. PLC is the only organization in Washington, D.C., dedicated solely to representing cattle and sheep ranchers that utilize federal lands. The organizations work hand-in-hand on many issues, sharing office space in the heart of the nation’s capital.

The fall law clerk will provide support to both NCBA and PLC staff on matters ranging from environmental legislation and regulations to issues relating to federal lands management, grazing, and the Endangered Species Act. The law clerk will have the opportunity to attend key hearings, evaluate detailed policy documents, research current and proposed federal regulations, and help inform industry response to new federal regulations. To apply, students must be currently enrolled in an ABA-accredited law school.

The full-time law clerk position will begin August 28 and end December 22, 2017.  To apply for the law clerk position, visit www.beefusa.org.

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Cattlemen Applaud Delay of GIPSA Rule, Call for Its Ultimate Demise

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applauded today’s announcement that the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) is delaying the effective date of its interim final rule an additional six months to Oct. 19, 2017.

 

“This is another step toward common sense and away from counterproductive government intrusion in the free market,” said NCBA President Craig Uden. “That said, while a delay is welcome, ultimately this rule should be killed and American cattle producers should be free to market our beef without the threat of government-sanctioned frivolous lawsuits.”

 

Two proposed rules and one interim final rule came out on December 20, 2016, one month before the end of the Obama Administration. The interim final rule regarding the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act and the proposed rule regarding undue preference and unjust treatment have a direct negative impact on the cattle industry.
Current systems that allow producers to market their cattle as they see fit reward them for producing the higher-quality beef that consumers demand. Under the interim final rule, USDA or a producer no longer needs to prove true economic harm. Instead, one only needs to say that he or she was treated “unfairly” to file a damaging lawsuit that could discourage cattlemen from continuing to invest in improving the quality of beef being produced.

“Trial lawyers are salivating at the prospect of this rule becoming the law of the land,” Uden said. “If this rule isn’t killed once and for all, cattle producers will lose nearly all incentive to invest in the production of higher-quality beef. That would mean less revenue for producers and lower quality for consumers. That’s a lose-lose proposition and exactly why the rule needs to not only be delayed – it needs to be killed outright.”

From: NCBA

USTR Defends U.S. Beef from European Mistreatment

Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative announced it will start the process of reinstating retaliatory tariffs on goods and products from the European Union due to the E.U.’s unfair treatment of U.S. beef. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Tracy Brunner applauds USTR Ambassador Michael Froman for standing up for the U.S. beef industry and taking action in defense of U.S. beef producers.

“The European Union has left us no choice but to seek compensation for the long-standing mistreatment of U.S. beef exports,” said Brunner. “Our temporary agreement with the E.U. was meant to be an opportunity to build a bridge of trust between U.S. beef producers and E.U. consumers, and to compensate the United States for the losses we have suffered as a result of the E.U.’s hormone ban. The E.U. has violated the spirit of that agreement and caused U.S. beef exports to become a minority interest in a quota meant to compensate U.S. beef producers.”

In 2009 the U.S. and the E.U. signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which the E.U. agreed to create a new duty-free quota for imports of specially-produced beef to compensate the United States for losses arising from the E.U.’s ban on the use of hormones in beef production. Imports under the quota have grown steadily since then, and for the past two years, the entire 45,000 metric ton quota has been filled, though from countries other than the U.S.

Over the past two years the U.S. government has attempted, without success, to engage the European Commission in discussions about ways to rectify this situation.

“While this is not our preferred choice, retaliation is the only way cattle producers are going to secure our rights for the losses we have incurred over the years due to the E.U.’s hormone ban,” said Brunner. “If the E.U. is unwilling to honor the terms of the agreement then we have no alternative but to seek restitution. We will not continue to be subjected to such trade agreement abuse.”

While initially imports from the United States accounted for the majority of the business done under the quota, over time imports from Australia, Uruguay and Argentina increased rapidly, taking a greater share of the quota. Neither Australia, Uruguay, nor Argentina was a party to the hormone dispute or the 2009 MOU that created the quota intended for the United States. The United States now has a minority and declining share of the quota, and imports so far this year point to a continuation of this trend.