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.

U.S. Cattle Industry Leaders Establish Direction for Policy, Checkoff Programs

More than 700 at Summer Business Meeting in Denver, Colo.

DENVER, Colo. (July 13, 2017) – More than 700 cattle industry leaders are gathering at the Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting in Denver this week to help create direction for industry programs. The meeting runs July 13-15.

The event includes sessions of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Cattlemen’s Beef Board, American National CattleWomen and National Cattlemen’s Foundation. Among the purposes of the yearly conference is to create a framework for checkoff and policy efforts on behalf of U.S. cattle producers for the 2018 fiscal year, which for NCBA and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board begins Oct. 1.

Keynote speaker at Thursday’s Opening General Session is Eric Baumgartner, executive vice president of VML, a global marketing ad agency. Baumgartner will provide insight into the advent of technologies that are changing how consumers purchase almost everything they buy, from hamburgers to vacations. General Session I is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

Also at the Summer Business Meeting, results from the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit are being unveiled. About every five years since 1991 the NBQA has delivered a set of guideposts and measurements for cattle producers and others to help determine quality conformance of the U.S. beef supply.

“While cattlemen and women continue to improve their operations and the beef they produce, here has been tremendous volatility in our industry over the past couple of years,” said Craig Uden, a beef producer from Nebraska and NCBA president. “To maximize their success cattle producers need to understand not only the impact of their own operations but everything in the world that affects how they do business today.”

Joint Committees and Subcommittees will meet on Thursday and Friday to develop proposals for 2018 checkoff-funded research, education and promotion programs. Also on Friday NCBA policy committees will meet to determine priorities and discuss strategies for 2018. The NCBA Board will hold its board meeting on Saturday. The meeting of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board will take place on Friday, July 14.

“Cattlemen and women from across the country are taking time out of their busy lives to help make decisions that will have an impact on the direction our industry takes,” said Uden. “Meetings like this are a testament to the unselfish dedication these individuals have for the future of the beef cattle industry.”

 

President Signs Resolution to Repeal BLM Planning 2.0

President Trump today signed a congressional resolution directing the Bureau of Land Management to repeal their Planning 2.0 Rule. Wyoming rancher and NCBA and PLC member Joel Bousman was in attendance at the White House for the signing. Ethan Lane, executive director of PLC and NCBA federal lands, applauded the action and called it a significant victory for western ranchers.

“BLM’s Planning 2.0 Rule would have caused a wholesale shift in management focus at BLM by prioritizing ‘social and environmental change’ over ensuring the multiple use of public lands,” said Lane. “When you couple the wholesale shift away from multiple-use with the elimination of stakeholder and local input, the rule was unworkable for western communities. We applaud the action by President Trump and look forward to working with the new Administration to bring together a streamlined planning process that works for livestock ranchers and the western communities that depend on the use of BLM lands.”

American Beef: Number One in South Korea

For the first time in 13 years, American producers in November surpassed Australia in beef imports that have cleared customs into South Korea.

 

The Korea Customs Service reported this week that 13,921 tons of American beef were brought into the country in November vs. only 10,310 tons from the Land Down Under. That’s up 20 percent over November 2015, and export value is up 21 percent to $619 million – the highest it has been since July 2013.

 

Even better news for American beef producers is the fact that even before December’s numbers are in, 2016’s exports to South Korea have already shattered 2015’s final tally of $847.4 million. From January through November 2016, American producers exported $929.3 million to South Korea – a whopping 25 percent increase. When December’s numbers are reported, South Korea will join Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, and Mexico as the fifth nation to import more than $1 billion worth of American beef in a single year.

 

Overall U.S. beef exports in November 2016 made up almost 15 percent of all production and 11.7 percent for just muscle cuts – the best levels in two years. 2016 exports through November account for 13.5 percent of all U.S. production – up 13 percent from 2015’s numbers. November’s per-head beef export value reached a 2016 high of $294 – up five percent from a year earlier.

 

This historic rise in American beef exports to South Korea underscores the tremendous importance of international trade to our industry. NCBA continues to work to break down unnecessary trade barriers so American producers can have greater access to the 96 percent of the world’s consumers who live outside our country.

 

The ever-growing Asian markets of China and Japan remain vitally important, where limited access and high tariffs continue to put American producers at an unnecessary disadvantage to producers in nations like Australia.

Source: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association