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.”

NCBA Calls for Flexibility on Hours of Service Rules

At a public listening session hosted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today called for additional flexibility on Hours of Service rules for livestock haulers. NCBA President Kevin Kester and Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera delivered the group’s message at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s headquarters in Washington.

The comments emphasized the need for a regulatory framework that encourages drivers to rest when they are tired. Under the status quo, drivers are incentivized to “push through” fatigue due to overly-restrictive Hours of Service rules.

“The current Hours of Service framework is incompatible with the realities of livestock hauling,” said Kester. “Drivers of our livestock need to be alert and safe, while also cognizant of the welfare of the animals they are hauling. We want them to rest as needed, instead of racing against the clock.”

Current rules require a livestock hauler to rest for 10 consecutive hours once they reach their maximum on-duty drive time of 11 hours. When a driver “runs out of time” while hauling live animals, they are given the grim prospects of unloading the livestock or leaving them on the trailer for a 10-hour stretch. Both options present serious logistical and animal welfare challenges.

NCBA comments encouraged FMCSA to provide livestock haulers with the flexibility of a split sleeper berth program that would allow for shorter rest periods of two or three hours during a trip, until the 10 hours of total rest has been reached. While stopping for a 10-hour period with a load of livestock is rarely feasible, allowing multiple rest periods of two or three hours would enable livestock haulers to get the rest they need while maintaining the health and well-being of animals in their care.

“In the livestock hauling world, common sense flexibility is everything,” said Rivera. “This need for flexibility comes from the fact that livestock haulers not only have to be concerned with the safety of themselves and other drivers on the road, but also the welfare of the live animals they are transporting.”

National Cattlemen’s Foundation Accepting Applications for W.D. Farr Scholarships

The National Cattlemen’s Foundation is now accepting applications for the W.D. Farr Scholarships for the 2018-19 school year. Two annual $15,000 grants will be awarded to outstanding graduate students who demonstrate superior achievement in academics and leadership and are committed to beef industry advancement. The awards will allow the students to further their study in fields that benefit the industry.

The scholarship was established by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation to honor the successful career of the late W.D. Farr. Farr, a third-generation Coloradan, pioneer rancher, statesman and banker was known for his extraordinary vision. His dedication to improving agriculture, livestock and water development has resulted in significant changes in farming methods that have influenced the practices of ranchers and farmers throughout the nation.

To apply for the scholarship, graduate students planning to pursue a career in the beef industry should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, description of applicant’s goals and experience, and statement of belief in the industry, as well as a review of the applicant’s graduate research and three letters of recommendation. Applications close at midnight on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. For more information and to apply, visit www.nationalcattlemensfoundation.org. All applications must be submitted online.

Witnesses Explain Multiple Benefits of Public Lands Grazing at Congressional Hearing

WASHINGTON (July 12, 2018) A lieutenant governor, a scientist, and an agricultural industry leader made the case for eliminating regulatory burdens and legal loopholes impacting livestock grazing on federal land during a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing held today.

Idaho Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, University of Montana Professor Dr. Dave Naugle, and Arizona Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse provided testimony to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing entitled “The Essential Role of Livestock Grazing on Federal Lands and Its Importance to Rural America.” The witnesses emphasized the valuable contribution public lands ranchers make to the economic viability of rural communities and the health of America’s shared natural resources.

“Ranchers are indispensable in the successful management of our public lands. Unlike government administrators, who are only there for a few years, ranchers have been on the land for generations,” said Little, a third-generation rancher testifying on behalf of the State of Idaho, the Public Lands Council, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “If ranchers are regulated off, our country loses the most effective and efficient public lands managers, and the private inholdings are likely sold for development.”

Species conservation is one of the benefits of public lands ranching. The Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) species conservation model, demonstrates the potential of collaborative conservation efforts between ranchers and federal agencies. Naugle, who has served as a third-party science advisor to SGI for eight years, believes it is vital to ensure ranchers can continue raising livestock on public lands.

”To date, 2,154 producers have partnered up to conserve 7.5 million acres of grazing lands, an acreage equivalent to three Yellowstone National Parks, benefiting hundreds of rural communities and countless wildlife resources,” Naugle said. “Rancher participation in SGI remains high post-listing decision because WLFW provides win-win solutions that are ‘good for the bird and good for the herd’.”

Despite the proven benefits or grazing, activist groups have increasingly targeted the livestock industry. According to a study by the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a group of eight environmental activist groups filed over 3,300 lawsuits nationwide over a ten-year period. Little said many of these lawsuits exploit regulations found in environmental policy, limiting grazing on public land.

“While well-intended when enacted in the seventies, ESA and NEPA have evolved into weapons for habitual litigants, and the regulations they produce are as ineffective as they are burdensome,” Little said. “Species conservation doesn’t work from the top-down.”

Public lands ranchers see an opportunity to work with the federal government and the environmental community to achieve desired outcomes in land management and species conservation across the West. However, this can only be achieved through regulatory reform that will allow their industry to continue to serve as stewards to America’s public land.

“I urge you to address the burdensome regulatory environment which threatens our way of life and those rural communities where ranching is the year-round backbone that sustains our schools, healthcare, and economies,” Little said.

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.”

“Positive Developments” in Omnibus Spending Bill

Colin Woodall, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), released the following statement:

“The omnibus spending bill includes a number of positive developments for cattlemen and women, including language that would prevent 200,000 farms and ranches from being regulated like toxic waste sites, delay the implementation of electronic logging devices for livestock haulers for another six months, and provide a critical fix for wildfire funding that also provides expedited authority to implement much-needed vegetation management on federal lands. We are also glad to see refinements to the tax code that address the 199A issue. NCBA and our affiliates have been working closely with Congress to ensure the spending bill addresses issues of concern for U.S. ranchers and beef producers, and we are glad to see our policy priorities reflected in the legislation. We urge Congress to take the next step and vote ‘Yes’ when the bill comes up for a vote.”

Background:

  • CERCLA Reporting: A provision would relieve livestock producers of the emissions reporting requirements under CERCLA, protecting 200,000 farms and ranches around the country. NCBA has been urging affiliates and members to support stand-alone legislation in the House and Senate that would also exempt agricultural producers from CERCLA reporting requirements. Passage of the omnibus spending bill would achieve the same goal.

 

  • Electronic Logging Devices: The bill includes a provision that would grant livestock haulers an exemption from ELDs until September 30, 2018. A further delay will provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) more time to educate our livestock haulers on the ELDs while industry works on solutions to the current Hours of Service rules that do not currently work for those truckers driving livestock across this great nation. Recent NCBA actions on this issue include:
    • September 2017 – NCBA and allied groups petition Department of Transportation for ELD waiver.
    • September 2017 – NCBA and affiliates ask Congress to support one-year delay of ELD implementation for livestock haulers.
    • November 2017 – NCBA helps secure 90-day waiver from ELD implementation
    • March 2018 – NCBA and allied groups successfully petition for another 90-day wavier from ELD implementation.

 

  • Section 199A Fix: The 199A fix included in the bill will equalize tax treatment of commodity sales to cooperatives and non-cooperatives, while also providing flow-through deduction from co-ops to their members similar to the old Section 199 deduction for domestic production activities.

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 Applaud Introduction of Strong Bipartisan Bill in U.S. Senate

Ten Republicans, Ten Democrats Join Together As Initial Co-Sponsors on Fischer-Donnelly FARM Act

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applauded the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate that would prevent farms, ranches, and other agricultural operations from having to report livestock manure data under CERCLA, the law that governs toxic Superfund sites. The bipartisan bill was introduced earlier this week with the support of 10 Republican co-sponsors and 10 Democratic cosponsors.

“There’s not a lot of truly bipartisan legislation in Washington these days, but one thing that pretty much everybody can agree on is that a responsibly-run cattle ranch isn’t a toxic Superfund site,” said fifth-generation California rancher and NCBA President Kevin Kester. “On behalf of cattle producers across America, I want to sincerely thank the Senators from both parties who worked together to introduce this bipartisan bill. I also want to encourage other Senators to join the effort and pass this bill as quickly as possible.”

Initial bipartisan cosponsors of Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act (or, FARM Act) are U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was enacted to provide for cleanup of the worst industrial chemical toxic waste dumps and spills, such as oil spills and chemical tank explosions. CERCLA was never intended to govern agricultural operations, for whom emissions from livestock are a part of everyday life.

To make this clear, in 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule to clarify that farms were exempt from CERCLA reporting and small farms, in particular, were exempt from EPCRA reporting, given that low-level livestock emissions are not the kind of “releases” that Congress intended to manage with these laws.

Upon being sued in 2009 by environmental advocacy groups, the Obama Administration’s EPA defended the exemption in court on the grounds that CERCLA and EPCRA do not explicitly exempt farms because Congress never believed that agriculture would be covered under these statutes, so a specific statutory exemption was not viewed to be necessary. Unfortunately, in April 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the EPA’s 2008 exemption, putting nearly 200,000 farms and ranches under the regulatory reporting authorities enshrined in CERCLA and EPCRA. The new reporting requirements could have gone into effect on Jan. 22, but the Court delayed implementation of the requirements until May 1, 2018, which gives Congress time to act.

NCBA in January kicked off a media campaign on the issue with an online video featuring the group’s Chief Environmental Counsel, Scott Yager. In the video, Yager donned a yellow hazmat suit and explained the issue at an actual toxic Superfund site near Fredericksburg, Virginia. He then shows the contrast between the contaminated Superfund site and a cattle farm in nearby Louisa County, Virginia, that would likely have to comply with the new reporting requirements.

“This is most certainly not a toxic Superfund site,” Yager explained from the Virginia cow pasture. “Unfortunately, a recent court decision may force cattle producers and other agricultural operations to report a bunch of information about their cow poop to the federal government under the Superfund laws that were only meant to deal with toxic waste. That is unless Congress acts soon.”

Source: NCBA

Wyoming Rancher testifies before U.S. Senate Committee, calls for less regulation

Today Niels Hansen, Secretary/Treasurer of the Public Lands Council and a member of NCBA, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to explain how onerous federal regulations undermine conservation goals.

“Cattle producers pride themselves on being good stewards of our country’s natural resources. We maintain open spaces, healthy rangelands, provide wildlife habitat and feed the world. Despite these critical contributions, our ability to effectively steward these resources is all too often hampered by excessive federal regulations like the ones we are discussing today,” Mr. Hansen said in written testimony.

Ranchers own and manage more land than any other segment of agriculture, implementing proven conservation practices that have sustained the environment for generations. Mr. Hansen highlighted how specific laws and regulations pose challenges to this rich heritage:

  • The 2015 Waters of the United States Rule: “As a livestock producer, the 2015 WOTUS Rule has the potential to negatively affect every aspect of my operation by placing the regulation of every tributary, stream, pond, and dry streambed in the hands of the federal government, rather the states and localities that understand Wyoming’s unique water issues.”
  • CERCLA/EPCRA reporting: “Congress never intended these laws to govern everyday farm and ranch activity. When the mandate issues, nearly 200,000 farmers and ranchers will be on the hook to report low-level livestock manure odors to the government.”
  • Endangered Species Act: “Cattle producers throughout the country continue to suffer the brunt of regulatory and economic uncertainty due to the abuse of the Endangered Species Act…Years of abusive litigation by radical environmental groups have taken a toll, and the result is a system badly in need of modernization.”

Mr. Hansen – a third-generation rancher and industry leader in environmental stewardship – asked Congress to empower ranchers and local land managers by reducing the regulatory burdens they face.

“By freeing our industry from overly burdensome federal regulations and allowing us to provide the kind of stewardship and ecosystem services only we can, you will do more for healthy ecosystems and environments than top down restrictions from Washington ever can,” he said.

New Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Campaign Celebrates Consumers’ Love for Beef and the People Who Raise It

Twenty-five years after establishing one of the nation’s most iconic food brands, America’s beef farmers and ranchers are leveraging the strong equity of Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. to reintroduce the brand to a new generation of consumers. The relaunch will blend the strongest assets from the long-loved brand – such as the famous Aaron Copland “Rodeo” music and the famous tagline – and couple those with new creative assets. In total, the effort showcases the pleasure that beef brings to meals, the people who raise it and the nutritional benefits (such as protein) that beef provides.

“Consumers love beef, and as with all foods, today’s consumers want the whole story about the beef they buy.” said Alisa Harrison, senior vice president, Global Marketing and Research, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the beef checkoff, which funds the campaign. “Our research shows that the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand is still extremely popular among consumers, including millennials. So, in honor of its 25th Anniversary, we have refreshed the brand and updated our resources to make beef information available to consumers where they want it, when they want it and how they want it.”

The overall effort was designed with millennial media preferences in mind. The campaign launches Oct. 9 with digital advertising and a new digital platform at www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com, a single, comprehensive location that provides an interactive experience on all things beef, from cuts and cookery, to a robust collection of beef recipes to an inside look at the lives of the people who raise beef.

“Beef is one of the most popular foods among consumers, whether it’s your favorite steak or burger. But it can also be one of the most confounding, with questions ranging from the right cut, to the right way to cook it to where it came from,” said Harrison. “That’s why we wanted to make beef easier to enjoy. We’re setting out to answer the biggest questions that consumers have about beef, all in one place.”

To launch the campaign, NCBA has produced an “anthem” video that features the familiar children’s song, “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” with a new twist, to celebrate the American tradition of ranching while shedding light on what’s new about raising food today. This summer, the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. team traveled more than 3,800 miles from coast to coast to capture video, images and the stories about the real people who raise beef. The new series of videos and content will feature only real farmers and ranchers from across the country. While cattle and beef are raised differently in California than in Florida, or Iowa or Washington, the passion and commitment to care for the animals and land is the same.

Harrison explained that through the video series, consumers will learn about each step of the beef production process, from the farms and ranches, to feedlots, to processing and retail and to the consumer.

“Today’s farmers and ranchers blend time-honored traditions with cutting-edge innovations to raise beef, from drones and GPS tracking on the range to apps and other electronic tools that ensure precise and nutrient-filled rations in the feed bunk,” she said. Later in the year, new advertisements that celebrate beef’s unique qualities as a protein source will launch to appeal to consumers’ genuine love for beef, along with virtual tools such as 360 degree videos that show how beef goes from pasture to plate.

This all comes at a great time to enjoy beef. The recently completed National Beef Quality Audit, funded by the beef checkoff, shows a higher percentage of beef is grading Prime and Choice – the two highest grades USDA assigns – than it has in more than 35 years. Steak tenderness has achieved its best tenderness scores since testing began in 1990, according to the National Beef Tenderness Study.

To launch the campaign, NCBA is working with its new digital advertising agency of record, VML. VML created the new digital platform, BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

“Digital is a powerful medium that turns marketing on its head because of the power given to the consumer. Instead of telling people what to think, digital platforms – whether it’s BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com or the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Facebook page or Instagram feed – allow people to discover beef the way they want to,” Eric Baumgartner, VML executive vice president said.

To help launch the new Beef. It’s What For Dinner. brand, VML worked with NCBA to produce the “anthem” video and the series of beef producer videos, as well as designed the new brand logo.

To share the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand story through public relations and earned media efforts, Ketchum will continue to be NCBA’s public relations agency of record.

To learn more about the new digital platform, click here.

About the Beef Checkoff
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.