Rancher Discusses Critical Habitat Designations

NCBA Federal Lands Committee Chair Robbie LeValley discusses the potential consequences of Fish and Wildlife Service’s recently finalized rule regarding critical habitat designations, which expands their ability to designate habitat.   – See more online.


2016 Cattle Industry Convention Update with Young Stockgrowers Chair, Lacey Ehlke

Young Stockgrowers Chair, Lacey Ehlke, gives us an update on San Diego and the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show


Op-Ed: Tax Extenders are Critical to Stable Rural Growth

Philip Ellis_headshotAs we approach the end of the year, minds turn toward family, Christmas, big dinners, and snow. But for many in rural America, it’s also time to wrap up the tax year and set the strategy for the year ahead. For cattle producers and farmers equipment purchases, new buildings, and other major capital expenses are logical considerations. Unfortunately, for many the tax code has looked more like a gamble than a sure bet. Key provisions like Section 179 deductions and bonus depreciation that had been extended in 2014, again have been pushed to the end of the year. Earlier this year, the House permanently extended both Section 179 and bonus depreciation, but the Senate has yet to act. Without action, Section 179 dropped back down from $500,000 to $25,000 and bonus depreciation completely disappeared for the current tax year.

If Congress fails to act in December, producers will not be able to take these provisions into account during this tax year. Congress can retroactively extend these provisions, but in the real world, we cannot retroactively make plans or purchases. These provisions are key considerations when making the decision to purchase machinery and equipment. Those capital expenditures provide the pass through growth for much of the rural economy that relies on agriculture. That is why it is so important for Congress to act to pass a multi-year extension of Section 179 and bonus depreciation in early December. Producers need access to these tools while they still may be of use this tax year, and the certainty in future years to plan without waiting until the last minute to make major financial decisions.

We understand all too well the cyclical nature of the markets and weather we live with every day. These forces are beyond our means to control. But the tax code should not be as unpredictable as the weather or the markets. There is bi-partisan support for these provisions, and these provisions provide inducements for small businesses nationwide to grow and expand. In turn, that increases economic growth in areas where it is needed most. I encourage you to join with the members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in talking with your members of Congress and ask them to pass a multi-year tax extender package.

By: Philip Ellis, NCBA President

The Science Doesn’t Support IARC Decision

Philip Ellis_headshotBy Philip Ellis, Wyoming Rancher, NCBA President

We learned this week that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has voted to tell the world that they believe processed meats are a human carcinogen. Similarly, they have decided red meat is a “probable carcinogen.” Let me be clear, this group did not conduct new research during their meeting, they simply reviewed existing evidence, including six studies submitted by the beef checkoff. That evidence had already been reviewed and weighed by the medical and scientific community. The science reviewed by IARC simply does not support their decision.

We know that there isn’t clear evidence to support IARC’s decision because the beef checkoff has commissioned independent studies on the topic for a decade. In fact, countless studies have been conducted by cancer and medical experts and they have all determined the same thing: No one food can cause or cure cancer. But that hasn’t prevented IARC from deciding otherwise.

Since IARC began meeting in 1979, these experts have reviewed more than 900 compounds, products and factors for possible correlation with cancer. To date, only one product (caprolactam, which is a chemical primarily used to create synthetic fibers like nylon) has been granted a rating of 4, which indicates it is “probably not carcinogenic to humans.” Most other factors or products that have been examined by the body, including glyphosate, aloe vera, nightshift work and sunlight have fallen into three categories: 2B “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” 2A “probably carcinogenic to humans,” or 1 “carcinogenic to humans.”

It seemed likely from the beginning that we’d find ourselves here. We knew the deck was stacked against us, so the beef industry and others have long been working on providing credible research that would support what many others outside our industry have already verified: A full, fair and unbiased examination of the entire body of research does not support a finding that red or processed meats cause cancer. This conclusion isn’t mine alone and you can evaluate the information for yourself. We’ve posted the studies reviewed by IARC on the website: factsaboutbeef.com. At NCBA, our team of experts has also been working with our state partners and other industry organizations to mount a full-scale defense of beef.

As just one example of the work we’ve done, we commissioned a study with the same body of research reviewed by IARC. Our study engaged a panel of 22 epidemiologists from the United States and abroad who were recruited by a third-party research group. Participants in the study averaged 22 years of experience and the full panel had a combined total of 475 years of experience. They were provided with a meta-analysis graph which showed data for a specific exposure and a specific human disease outcome, but the specific human disease outcome and exposure were not revealed. In other words, they plotted the results of the study findings on a graph, without telling the participants what product the studies examined. Of the 22 participants in the study, 21 (or 95 percent) said their assessment of the magnitude of the association was weak. Of the 22 epidemiologists, only 10 (or 45 percent) said there was even a possible association. Perhaps most importantly, the epidemiologists agreed that, given the evidence provided, there is not sufficient evidence to make public health recommendations.

Cancer is a complex subject and no one understands fully what causes it or how it can be prevented. Despite billions of dollars spent on research, we only know that no one food can cause or prevent cancer. We also know, thanks in part to decades of producer-funded work on the subject, that when people lead overall healthy lifestyles and maintain a healthy weight, they reduce their risks for chronic diseases, such as cancer, and our team and our state partners are hard at work on this topic to be certain that consumers and their influencers know and understand that beef should remain in their diets, regardless of what IARC might say.

Science Does Not Support International Agency Opinion on Red Meat and Cancer

beef consumer demand meat caseAn international committee assigned to review all of the available evidence on red meat and cancer risk were divided on their opinion whether to label red meat a “probable” cause of cancer, according to the Beef Checkoff nutrition scientist and registered dietitian who observed the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) process. After seven days of deliberation in Lyon, France, IARC was unable to reach a consensus agreement from a group of 22 experts in the field of cancer research, something that IARC has proudly highlighted they strive for and typically achieve. In this case, they had to settle for “majority” agreement.

“Cancer is a complex disease that even the best and brightest minds don’t fully understand,” says Shalene McNeill, PhD, RD. “Billions of dollars have been spent on studies all over the world and no single food has ever been proven to cause or cure cancer. The opinion by the IARC committee to list red meat as a probable carcinogen does not change that fact. The available scientific evidence simply does not support a causal relationship between red or processed meat and any type of cancer.”

Most scientists agree that it is unrealistic to isolate a single food as a cause of cancer from a complex dietary pattern further confounded by lifestyle and environmental factors.

“As a registered dietitian and mother, my advice hasn’t changed. To improve all aspects of your health, eat a balanced diet, which includes lean meats like beef, maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and, please don’t smoke,” says McNeill.

While IARC represents a select group of opinions, it doesn’t always represent consensus in the scientific community.

A large meta-analysis, published online in May in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, analyzed the relationship between red meat intake and risk for colorectal cancer and concluded “red meat does not appear to be an independent predictor of CRC risk,” according to Dominik Alexander, PhD, MSPH, the epidemiologist who conducted the research on behalf of the Beef Checkoff.

“There are a constellation of factors that are associated with the probability of getting cancer, which include age, genetics, socioeconomic characteristics, obesity, lack of physical activity, where you grew up, alcohol consumption, smoking and even your profession,” says Alexander. “The bottom line is the epidemiologic science on red meat consumption and cancer is best described as weak associations and an evidence base that has weakened over time. And most importantly, because red meat is consumed in the context of hundreds of other foods and is correlated with other behavioral factors, it is not valid to conclude red meat is an independent cause of cancer.”

According to Alexander, studies in nutritional epidemiology can be highly prone to bias such as self-reported dietary intake, for which habits may change over time. Because of this, associations reported in nutritional epidemiology may be surrounded by uncertainty. For instance, most, if not all, of the observational studies with red meat are limited by confounding factors; for example, studies have shown that people who consume the most red meat are the most likely to smoke, eat fewer fruits and vegetables and be overweight or obese – all of which may confound the relationship between eating red meat and risk of cancer.

Also, more recent studies in large cohorts are now finding either no association or non-significant findings between red meat and cancer. For example, a recent study out of Harvard using the well known The Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and The Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) found unprocessed meat intake had an inverse association with distal colon cancer and a weak, statistically non-significant, positive association with risk of proximal colon cancer.

In addition, gold standard nutrition evidence, such as the Women’s Health Initiative and the Polyp Prevention Trial, two large, multi-year randomized controlled dietary interventions, found that a 20 percent reduction in red meat consumption did not reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and/or had no effect on adenoma recurrence in the large bowel. These studies were disregarded from the IARC review.

“Given the weak associations in human studies and lack of evidence in animal studies it is hard to reconcile the committee’s vote,” says nutritional toxicologist James Coughlin, PhD, CFS. “Of more than 900 items IARC has reviewed, including coffee, sunlight and night shift work, they have found only one ‘probably’ does not cause cancer according to their classification system.”

Coughlin, a toxicologist with more than 40 years of experience in meat and cancer, is critical of the IARC review process due to the lack of transparency, selective inclusion or exclusion of studies and broad interpretation of study results that are inconsistent with the conclusions of the study authors.

“In my experience as an observer to an IARC working group, the process typically involves scientists who have previously published research on the substance being reviewed and may have a vested interest in defending their own research” says Coughlin. “In the case of red and processed meat, the overall scientific evidence simply does not support their conclusion.”

–NCBA Press Release

Registration Open for 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show

san diego cicDENVER – Registration and housing for the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show is now open. The 118th Annual Convention will be held in San Diego, Calif., Jan. 27-29, 2016. Advanced registration is open until Jan. 4, 2016. Convention participants will hear from industry leaders, gather insight on industry trends, enjoy an evening of stars and stripes on the USS Midway and this year’s Cowboy Concert Series will feature Martina McBride. NCBA President Philip Ellis said this convention is a must for everyone involved in the cattle industry.

“The Cattle Industry Convention is the oldest and largest, national convention in the cattle business,” Ellis said. “We look forward to another great meeting in an outstanding location. Once again, NCBA will have one of the largest trade shows in agriculture, with 350 companies exhibiting on nearly 6 acres of show floor. Between the USO show on the USS Midway and Martina McBride, our entertainment will be outstanding.”

In addition to access to all of the 2016 convention events, registrants for the full convention will receive a 50 percent off coupon for Roper and Stetson apparel and footwear at the NCBA Trade Show. To register and secure housing for the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, visit www.beefusa.org or e-mail meetings@beef.org.

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Chief Veterinarian Addresses Joint Public Meeting Regarding Antimicrobial Data Collection

Antibiotics Use Livestock ResistanceWASHINGTON – Yesterday, Kathy Simmons, DVM, Chief Veterinarian, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, delivered comments before a joint public meeting of the Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, and Center for Disease Control addressing antimicrobial use and resistance data collection.

“NCBA believes that a clear strategy for data collection, analysis and reporting must first be established before moving forward with the data collection process in order to provide information that correctly represents actual antimicrobial drug use in food-producing animals,” said Dr. Simmons, adding that antimicrobial use data collection needs to be revised. “We agree that the antimicrobial drug sales and distribution data currently collected by FDA under ADUFA does not equate to antimicrobial drug use in food-producing animals. We are appreciative of the desire of the agencies to obtain broad stakeholder involvement and collaboration in the process to seek the best possible options available for collecting and analyzing on-farm antimicrobial drug use information.”

NCBA has a long history supporting antimicrobial stewardship that directs responsible antibiotic use in all sectors of the beef cattle industry. This commitment dates back to the first release of the Beef Producer Guidelines for Judicious Use of Antimicrobials in 1987, which is still utilized in an updated form by producers today.

“We do not believe that the reduction in the volume of antimicrobial drugs used in food-producing animals should be used as the sole measurement for the success of a judicious antimicrobial drug use strategy,” said Simmons. Instead, “there must be a way to link antimicrobial drug use metrics with the reason for drug use and animal population parameters rather than simply reporting aggregate quantities for which the only goal is reduction.”

Additionally, Simmons cautioned FDA on privacy concerns, stating that ensuring the anonymity of participants and safeguarding the information gathered in the system is of utmost importance to cattle producers.

As the conversation continues in Washington D.C., NCBA will remain engaged. Cattlemen and women appreciate the efforts of FDA to help bring more transparency and increased granularity to the antibiotic sales data for food-producing animals as well as the collaborative approach FDA is taking between industry users, federal agencies, and animal health companies.

–NCBA Press Release

Senate Hearing Reviews Army Corps’ Role in WOTUS

waterWASHINGTON (Sept. 30, 2015) – Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water held a hearing on the Army Corps of Engineers’ participation in the “waters of the United States” regulation. The subcommittee focused on internal memos released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While the memos show the Corps leadership having serious concerns with the science underlying the WOTUS rule, Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army insisted, as co-author, the Corps supported the final rule.

The hearing provided ample opportunity to highlight the issues raised in the memos and the gulf between the Corps and EPA in the arbitrary standards used in the final rule. Philip Ellis, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president and Chugwater, Wyo., cattleman, said the arbitrary nature of this rule poses a danger to all land uses.

“This rule is clearly not based on science, nor does it relate to keeping our waters clean,” said Ellis. “It is a transparent land grab by the administration and EPA. Cattlemen and women will continue to oppose this rule in Congress and in the courtroom. This rule and the flawed rulemaking process underlie the need for legislation to withdraw the rule and compel the agencies to work with all stakeholders.”

The WOTUS rule became effective in all but 13 states on August 28. A Federal Circuit Judge in North Dakota granted a temporary preliminary injunction on implementation of the WOTUS rule in the case brought by the 13 states before his court. Since enforcement of the rule, 31 states and numerous stakeholders, including the NCBA and Public Lands Council, have engaged in 22 lawsuits challenging EPA’s transparent lack of authority to regulate all waters in the United States.

NCBA and PLC support S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that would direct the EPA to withdraw the final WOTUS rule and work with stakeholders in drafting a new rule to clarify the Clean Water Act.

–NCBA Press Release

Internship Opportunities Available for the Cattle Industry Convention

National Cattlemens Beef USA logoDENVER – Applications are now being accepted for the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show internships. If you are a college junior or above and are interested in being a part of the cattle industry’s largest event you are encouraged to apply. Qualified applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA, a passion for the cattle and agricultural industry and the ability to travel to San Diego Jan. 25-30. NCBA President, Philip Ellis, said this internship is a great opportunity for college students to gain first-hand experience and network with leaders from every segment of the cattle and beef industry.

“Convention interns will benefit from a behind the scenes look at the cattle industry’s most prestigious event,” said Ellis. “The skills they are able to take from their experience and the contacts they make during this internship will last a lifetime.”

Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show interns are vital to the success of the event and a valued member of the team. Student interns will help many different NCBA staff members with a variety of meetings and events. Students should be prepared for a wide range of responsibilities from overseeing committee sign-in to working closely with the NCBA Political Action Committee and Cattlemen to Cattlemen television program.

“In addition to working with leaders in the cattle industry, the convention internship gives student the opportunity to meet and work with other young people from across the country,” said Ellis. “I would strongly recommend anyone who is interested to apply for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.”

Applications for the Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show internship are due by Oct. 1. For more information and to apply click here or go to www.BeefUSA.org and click on careers. Apply today and get ready to Set Sail for San Diego.

National Cattlemen’s Foundation accepting applications for W.D. Farr Scholarships

National-Cattlemens-Foundation-logoThe National Cattlemen’s Foundation is now accepting applications for the W.D. Farr Scholarships for the 2015-16 school year. The annual W.D. Farr Scholarship awards were established by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation in 2007 to recognize outstanding students who plan to pursue careers in meat science and animal agriculture. Each $12,000 award recognizes superior achievement in academics and leadership, and will allow graduate students to further their study in fields that benefit the cattle and beef industry. Application deadline is August 31.

“By helping to make my student loan debt much more manageable, the W.D. Farr Scholarship has allowed me to pursue my interests at law school so that I may become a great legal advocate for farmers and ranchers,” said 2014 scholarship recipient, Ariel Overstreet-Adkins. “Knowing that my friends in the cattle industry support my efforts has been a constant source of encouragement in the face of a challenging and rigorous law school curriculum.”

Adkins received the award during her final year of law school at the University of Montana, where she focused her studies on property, land use, natural resource and water law. She said Farr’s legacy has set an example for others to aspire toward.

Josh Ison, PhD student at Texas Tech University studying food safety and epidemiology within animal science, echoed Adkin’s sentiment stating that the scholarship helped mitigate expenses associated with his dissertation research.

“This scholarship has supported my travel and subsistence for a research fellowship in antimicrobial resistance surveillance in Paris, France, to perform my dissertation research,” said Ison.

W.D. Farr was the first president of the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, and served as president of the American National Cattlemen’s Association, which would later become the NCBA. His career spanned 75 years and included innovations in cattle feeding, uniform beef grading, water conservation and banking.

To apply for the scholarship, graduate students planning to pursue a career in meat science or the beef industry should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, a description of applicant’s goals and experience, a statement of belief in the industry as well as a review of the applicant’s graduate research and three letters of recommendation. For more information and to apply, visit nationalcattlemensfoundation.org.