Inside Trade Agreements – World Trade Organization (WTO)

Beef Offal Export Values World Trade OrganizationEditor’s Note: Part one of a series of articles in which we will look at trade and the organizations that set the standards for these agreements. The next article will focus on the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Provided by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for educational purposes.

Trade is a fundamental part of America’s cattle industry, and with new pacts on the horizon like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade Investment and Promotion agreement the beef industry is poised to take advantage of greater opportunities ahead. Ninety-six percent of the world’s population lives outside of United States’ borders, and it is critical to capitalize on these foreign markets to maximize profit margin. Beef demand looks different across the world, and foreign markets drive demand and increase profitability for beef cuts that are less popular here in the states, drivers our cattle industry can capitalize on. In 2013, trade brought home more value to the producer than ever in the past – $307 per head or $6.15 billion total. This premium underlines the value of trade for all segments of our industry. And the major regulator of these opportunities is the World Trade Organization.

The WTO has a long history in international trade. Its formation reaches back to the Treaty of Versailles and the end of World War I, with the establishment of the League of Nations. After World War II, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was formed. And in 1995 with the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, under the age is of the GATT, the WTO was formally created to discuss and negotiate the further development of trade rules and seek peaceable resolution to trade disputes. With its history in war, the main function of the WTO then as now, is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.

To secure these market opportunities, countries work through the WTO. The WTO was built around trade agreements which were negotiated and signed by many of the world’s leading trade nations. These documents provide the legal ground rules for international commerce. They are essentially contracts, binding governments to keep their trade policies within agreed limits. Although negotiated and signed by governments, the goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business, while allowing governments to meet social, environmental and safety objectives.

Economic development and well-being is dependent upon free trade and as such, the WTO’s overriding purpose is to help trade flow as freely as possible — so long as there are no undesirable side effects. That partly means removing obstacles and ensuring that individuals, companies and governments know what the trade rules are around the world, and giving them confidence and security without fear of sudden policy changes.

Which brings us to the point of why WTO is important and what their role is in international trade. The NCBA does not necessarily work with WTO directly; we work with our government, the U.S. Trade Representative and the governments of other nations affected by decisions at the WTO. But the WTO makes many of their trade decisions based on standards set by other organizations. WTO gives these organizations credence by recognizing the standards they set. These organizations, like the World Organization for Animal Health, known by its French acronym OIE, and Codex Alimentarius, set the precedent that WTO looks at and that the cattle industry can use as a guide for animal health and food safety.

When our membership calls for free and open trade based on internationally recognized science, OIE and Codex provide the science that underlies that notion. And that is where NCBA works. Over the past several years and through the next months, we will be attending meetings and submitting comments and documents to ensure that the standards set on the global level for animal health and welfare and food safety are in line with the most recent science and that these standards work for the U.S. cattle industry.

An example would be a beef trade dispute with a country that refused to accept U.S. beef that was at any time fed a beta-agonist. Codex, has a set maximum residue level, or MRL, for certain beta-agonists in meat based on the scientific evidence presented by a varied committee of nations, experts and researchers. Since this level has been recognized internationally, it would be among the standards used if the U.S. were to take up a case against that country’s action at the WTO. And that is the type of action that preserves our ability to trade openly with other nations.

Of course not all WTO disputes are based on sound science. There are many other barriers to trade that the U.S. beef industry works with. There is protectionism both domestic and abroad. Policies like COOL, that discriminate against our trading partners and threaten retaliatory action against our beef exports to Canada and Mexico, which alone make up one-third of our total beef exports. And as with other trade disputes, the WTO is not the only way to work out our differences. As with our relations with China, Japan, the European Union and others; the decisions on how to move forward involve not only the possibility of enforcement at the WTO, but diplomacy and leadership through the Administration and our ambassadors and attachés. But we will continue to work with all of these groups to ensure we can provide the same great high-quality beef we raise and produce here in the U.S. to our customers across the world.

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Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Releases Draft Principles and Criteria

Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) released its draft Principles and Criteria document in March. Those principles and criteria provide a basic framework for defining beef sustainability without setting standards or creating a “one-size-fits-all” approach to how beef should be produced. The sustainability principles and criteria contained within the document represent a yearlong, multi-stakeholder process which included participants from around the world, including representatives from NCBA.

“GRSB defines global sustainable beef as a socially responsible, environmentally sound and economically viable product that prioritizes planet, people, animals, and progress,” said Cameron Bruett, President, GRSB and Head, Corporate Affairs, JBS USA. “Our membership has worked in a collaborative fashion to boldly confront the challenges in every segment of the beef value chain. The core principles for global beef sustainability seek to balance a broad range of issues including natural resources, community and individual development, animal well-being, food, and efficiency and innovation.”

Although NCBA had a role in helping to draft the principles and criteria, there are a number of areas where NCBA continues to have concerns with the document. As a member of GRSB, NCBA will continue to engage in the process and seek changes to the principles and criteria.

“The conditions and practices under which beef is produced vary greatly around the world. As a result, there are principles and criteria contained in the document that apply to practices and conditions in the United States, while some do not,” said Forrest Roberts, NCBA Chief Executive Officer. “In most instances the practices, laws and regulations in the U.S. are more stringent.”

Although the draft principles and criteria do not represent NCBA policy and the organization has no current official position on the document, the organization will continue to engage in the effort.

“Because of the global nature of this document and the diverse views of GRSB members, there are some areas of concern,” said Roberts. “We believe that the farmers and ranchers in the U.S. are among the most responsible and progressive in the world and they take pride in the fact that they have been producing beef responsibly for generations.”

He pointed out that each member of the beef value chain plays an important role in the sustainability of our industry and we each have improvements we can make.

“It’s that spirit of continuous improvement that makes our industry great and we are hopeful that this document will provide the framework to benchmark those improvements in the U.S. and around the globe,” said Roberts.

GRSB’s sustainability principles and criteria are available online for public review and comment at and NCBA will be submitting extensive comments on the document. NCBA members and beef industry stakeholders are also encouraged to provide input directly to GRSB, through the comment form on the website, in an effort to provide input on sustainable beef production from the U.S. perspective. The public comment period is open until May 16, 2014. After that time the comments will be reviewed and incorporated into the draft document. The revised final draft will be reviewed and voted upon at GRSB’s annual meeting later this year.

–via Beltway Beef, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, 05/08/2014

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NCBA and PLC Support the Modernization of Endangered Species Act

National Cattlemens Beef USA logo(via NCBA Beltway Beef) The Endangered Species Act has become one of the most economically damaging laws facing our nation’s livestock producers. When species are listed as “threatened” or “endangered” under the ESA,the resulting use-restrictions placed on land and water, the two resources upon which ranchers depend for their livelihoods, are crippling.The ESA has not been reauthorized since 1988 and is in great need of modernization.

The National Cattlemen’s Bee Association and the Public Lands Council support all attempts to modernize and streamline the ESA and have provided several recommendations to Congress. The House of Representatives Endangered Species Act Congressional Working Group released a report in February 2014 which gave several recommendations for ESA improvements.The report concludes that the ESA “while well-intentioned from the beginning,must be updated and modernized to ensure its success where it matters most: outside of the courtroom and on-the-ground. ”The working groups’ recommendations echo our organizations’ recommendations.

NCBA and PLC submitted a letter of support this week for four bills that are a direct result of the findings that are covered in the working groups’report.

H.R.4315, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act introduced by Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA),requires data used by federal agencies for ESA listing decisions (including proposed listings) to be made publicly available and accessible through the Internet. The public should be able to see the information that their government is using to make listing decisions that ultimately affect everyone.

H.R.4316, the Endangered Species Recovery Transparency Act introduced by Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), requires the Interior Secretary to report and comprehensively track ESA litigation costs, including attorneys’ fees, and post it on the internet. We must hold people accountable for the monetary resources,taxpayer money that is spent.

H.R.4317 the State, Tribaland Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act introduced by Representative Randy Neugebauer (R-TX),requires the federal government to disclose to affected states all data used in ESA prior to any listing or proposed listing decision. It also ensures that “best available scientific and commercial data” used by the federal government will include data provided by affected states, tribes,and local governments.

H.R.4318, the Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act introduced by Representative Bill Huizenga (R-MI),caps hourly fees paid to attorneys that prevail in cases filed under ESA, consistent with current law under the Equal Access to Justice Act.Currently, no cap on attorney fees exists under the ESA allowing attorneys to be awarded massive sums of taxpayer money.

The ESA,while designed to protect species from endangerment of extinction, has proven itself o be ineffective and immensely damaging to our members’ ability to stay in business. Less than two percent of species placed on the endangered list have ever been deemed recovered.

Environmental activist groups’ list-and-litigate routine costs not just producers, but taxpayers, as well.These groups have a habit of suing the federal government to force the listing of a species,then suing to prevent species delisting—even after recovery goals have been met.Their legal expenses are often reimbursed by the American taxpayer. It is no small wonder when environmental radicals can keep themselves well-funded by a seemingly endless stream of taxpayer dollars that so many species have been listed and so few have been delisted. While not a complete fix, these four bills take some of the necessary steps to repairing this broken law.

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NCBA Accepting Applications for Public Policy Internship

WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2014) – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s and the Public Lands Council government affairs office in Washington, D.C., are accepting applications for the fall 2014 public policy internship. The deadline to submit an application is Feb. 17, 2014.

“NCBA and PLC’s internship is a great opportunity to see firsthand a grassroots effort at work in the nation’s most powerful city,” said Rachel Abeh, a Montana State University senior and fall 2013 intern. “I have a better understanding of the complexity and implications of the political issues facing our ranchers back here in the West, along with a greater appreciation for the lobbyists who work on behalf of our producers day in and day out.”

See more thoughts from Rachel Abeh about her recent internship in our video posted yesterday.

NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts said this is a great opportunity for students with an interest in the beef industry and public policy.

“From food safety and trade to environmental issues and taxes, this internship will give college students the opportunity to work alongside staff on many critical issues affecting U.S. cattlemen and women,” Butts said. “The internship is designed to work closely with the lobbying team on Capitol Hill; to assist with NCBA and PLC’s regulatory efforts; and to work closely with the communications team.”

The full-time internship will begin Sept. 8, 2014 and end Dec. 13, 2014. To apply, interested college juniors, seniors or graduate students should submit the application, college transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a resume to More information about the NCBA public policy internship is available on


The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has represented America’s cattle producers since 1898, preserving the heritage and strength of the industry through education and public policy. As the largest association of cattle producers, NCBA works to create new markets and increase demand for beef. Efforts are made possible through membership contributions. To join, contact NCBA at 1-866-BEEF-USA or


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Young Cattlemen's Conference Montana Application

The Young Cattlemen’s Conference, Trip of a Lifetime

Is your dream to travel the country and learn about the different aspects of the beef industry? The Montana Stockgrowers Association’s Foundation, along with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, can send you on this once in a lifetime trip… via the Young Cattlemen’s Conference.

Denver, Chicago, Washington D.C.

Young Cattlemen's Conference Montana ApplicationEach summer, NCBA takes around 62 participants from across the US on a multi-city, two-week journey through the beef supply chain. The tour will begin in Denver with a comprehensive overview of the industry.  The group will take an in-depth look at many of the issues affecting the beef industry and what NCBA is doing to address these issues on behalf of its members, plus receive a comprehensive view of market information from Cattle-Fax.

The group will then travel to JBS Five Rivers’ Kuner Feedyard, one of the nation’s largest cattle feeding operations, a one-time capacity of over 100,000 head located in Northern Colorado.  They will then tour the JBS Greeley facility, one of the nation’s largest beef packing and processing plants.  JBS will host the group and will be sharing with them their views of the beef industry from a processor standpoint.

Chicago is the next destination.  Here the group will visit the Chicago Board of Trade & OSI, Inc. one of the nation’s premiere beef patty manufacturers. The participants will then travel to the nation’s Capitol.  They will get a chance to meet with their respective congressmen and senators.  In addition, the group will visit with a number of regulatory agencies that make decisions affecting agriculture.

Last YCC trip, Montana’s representative Travis Brown had the wonderful opportunity to testify on behalf of Montana’s ranchers at the House Natural Resources Committee Hearing.

Apply for YCC by February 15th

Are you interested in participating this summer? MSGA’s Research & Education Endowment Foundation will select one applicant to send on the YCC trip – covering the conference tuition expenses and $500 in airfare. It is packed-full of adventure, education and networking with fellow young cattlemen and women…and it serves as an experience that will impact the way you view the beef industry for the rest of your life.

Fill out your 2014 Montana YCC application online –

“The Montana Stockgrowers Association and Foundation is committed to investing in the development and education of leaders in the agriculture business, and the Foundation sees a positive return on the investment in the Young Cattlemen’s Conference delegates,” said Dusty Hahn, Foundation chairman.

MSGA’s Foundation is only able to send one participant per year. This year’s application deadline is Feb. 15. To apply, you must be between the ages of 25-50 and can commit to two weeks this June. Please contact the MSGA office to get the application: (406) 442-3420 and for more information, email MSGA’s Lauren Chase at

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Zoetis Cattlemen's College at Montana Stockgrowers Convention

NCBA’s Cattlemen’s College Lineup Set for Feb. 3-4 in Nashville

Zoetis Cattlemen's College at Montana Stockgrowers ConventionAre you headed to Nashville for the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show? Be sure to look us up! Montana Stockgrowers will have a Trade Show booth and we’ll be there all week! Be sure to download the #CIC14 mobile app or join the Facebook event to stay on top of the events.

DENVER — Celebrating its 21st year, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Cattlemen’s College has established a reputation as one of the most thorough cattle producer education programs in the nation. Sponsored by Zoetis Animal Health, the 2014 edition of Cattlemen’s College offers a wide range of informative, hands-on educational workshops designed for cattle operations of every size and sector.

The program will be held Feb. 3-4, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn., headlining the first day of activities at the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. Early registration for Cattlemen’s College and the convention ends Jan. 10, 2014.

Cattlemen’s College workshops include an outstanding lineup of industry experts during the course of two jam-packed days. On Mon., Feb. 3, participants will first hear from Dr. Arne Anderson as he presents “Manners Matter: Keeping You and Your Cattle Alive and Well”. This first class is aimed at the “dos” and “don’ts” of processing cattle through a chute, with emphasis placed on safety and efficiency for both the cowboys and the cattle.

Following this presentation, Dr. Jerry Lipsey will demonstrate how to select replacement heifers for longevity in a presentation entitled “Can Visual Evaluation Foresee Differences in Fertility?”, and Dr. Kent Andersen will discuss the selection of replacement bulls for fertility.

On Monday evening, Cattlemen’s College participants will be treated to a reception sponsored by Certified Angus Beef. The reception will be an opportunity to visit with fellow cattlemen as well as the afternoon’s speakers.

Starting Tuesday morning at 7:00 am, Cattlemen’s College classes begin with a keynote address by Bob Langert, who is the corporate vice president, and leads corporate social responsibility & sustainability for McDonald’s Corporation. Langert will share McDonald’s overall sustainable supply chain vision and how beef fits in. As sustainability evolves, listen in to see how McDonald’s is working with various stakeholders, including all parts of the value chain, to collaborate on social and environmental opportunities and challenges.

Proceeding Langert’s address, five concurrent classroom sessions will begin at 8:15 am with each classroom having specific areas of emphasis including resource management, animal management, ranch management, finance and business and consumer relations.

“Cattlemen’s College gives producers an opportunity to hear from some of the leading experts in topics that impact their cattle operations every day, as well as the chance to interact with those experts and ask questions,” said NCBA Executive Director of Producer Education John Paterson. “Many of the presenters are legends in the beef industry, and the wide variety of classes offers something for every producer. We highly encourage cattlemen and women to take advantage of this informative and educational program.”

Registration for Cattlemen’s College includes all classes along with lunch on Feb. 4. This schedule allows cattlemen to attend up to five 45-minute workshops.

Cattlemen’s College registration information, as well as a complete schedule for the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show are available at

Membership Development Committee Highlights Association Progress

Rachel Endecott, Montana State University Extension Beef Cattle Specialist

See more blog coverage from the 129th Annual Stockgrowers Convention by clicking here.

By Rachel Endecott, MSU Extension Beef Specialist

A good crowd was on hand at the Membership Development and Services Committee meeting at the 2013 Montana Stockgrowers Convention. In this post, I’d like to share some of the highlights from the meeting.

The return on investment for social media efforts is often hard to quantify. It was so exciting to hear from Errol Rice that 99 new MSGA memberships have resulted from the Association’s social media work in the past year! During his NCBA update, Dan McCarty shared that other associations are asking him what Montana is doing. I’m proud to be a member of such a progressive organization!

Updates from Montana State University and USDA-ARS Fort Keogh added to the upbeat nature of the meeting. New faculty positions and exciting research projects are on tap to continue to support Montana ranching.

Collegiate Stockgrowers presidents John Henry Beardsley (Montana State University) and Laramie Pursley in (MSU-Northern) reported on their club activities during 2013.  It was impressive to see how much these clubs have accomplished in the short time since they’ve been established. I look forward to these individuals becoming an integral part of the Young Stockgrowers as they finish their college careers.

Overall, the tone of our committee meeting was member-benefit focused. The value received from MSGA membership is well above the cost of membership dues.

NCBA and PLC Update from Rachel Abeh

Rachel Abeh

Rachel Abeh

Be sure to hear more from Rachel today in the Tax, Finance and Ag Policy Committee meeting.

By Rachel Abeh, MSU Collegiate Stockgrower, NCBA and PLC intern

In conclusion of my internship with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) I had the opportunity to head back west to present the NCBA policy report to Montana Stockgrowers members.

While working with NCBA and PLC I had a first-hand opportunity to see the legislative process at work. The internship was a great experience and gave me a chance to engage in beef policy at the national level. Additionally, my time at NCBA further solidified my interests in pursuing a career in the policy arena.

I worked closely with PLC, dealing with western issues—some of the most important to Montana’s producers. While at first I was a little skeptical about going to Washington, seeing the impacts of the work NCBA and PLC do for folks at home made it worthwhile.

It was exciting for me because NCBA really champions the beef industry in D.C. There is no doubt other groups engage; however, the caliber of professionals NCBA has on staff are bar-none. I was able to work with and learn from a great group of industry leaders and I really saw the Cattlemen excel—even other animal ag groups on the Hill, which made me proud to be an NCBA member and their intern.

NCBA policy is membership-driven and it was exciting for me to know I was engaging on issues that matter to farmers and ranchers across the country. NCBA’s top priority remains the Farm Bill; unfortunately, during my time in D.C. the bill didn’t pass. However, NCBA continues to advocate for passage, which will hopefully happen this January—ensuring stability for producers. Programs such as: Disaster Assistance, a Research title, and Conservation title.

Additionally, NCBA keeps vigilant over other issues impacting our industry such as tax and trade. A victory this past year was the estate tax exemption level at $5 million per individual and $10 per couple. NCBA worked closely with Baucus to champion this effort and continues to support full repeal of the “Death Tax.”

While I was in Washington, a feat for the industry took place as the Grazing Improvement Act passed the Senate. This is something important to western producer so it was exciting to attend the hearing and the meetings that came before passage.

NCBA also works closely with Montana’s delegation; in fact, NCBA continues to support Steve Daines as he works for Montana’s industry. I never realized how Montana’s issues were represented in D.C. but there is no doubt that NCBA and PLC are working for producers in this state.

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Internship Opportunities with NCBA

Several opportunities have recently opened up for young producers to gain experience in the cattle industry on a larger scale. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has announced internship opportunities for both short- and semester-long positions. The deadlines are coming up soon. Be sure to apply today.

Internships are a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience and broaden your horizons within the industry. Even if you have grown up in the ranching business. gaining exposure and awareness of how the industry operates on the national level is a valuable learning opportunity.

Spring and Summer Public Policy Internships

(NCBA) government affairs office in Washington, D.C., is accepting applications for spring and summer 2014 public policy internships. The deadline to submit an application for these opportunities has been extended to Oct. 14, 2013.

“NCBA’s public policy internship gives college students a one-of-a-kind view into the policy making process in Washington, D.C., while helping them prepare to transition from college to career,” said NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts. “We are looking for college students with an interest in the beef industry, public policy and communications to help NCBA represent cattlemen and cattlewomen in Washington, D.C. The internship is designed to work closely with the lobbying team on Capitol Hill and assist with NCBA’s regulatory efforts.”

The full-time spring internship will begin Jan. 6, 2014, and end May 9, 2014. The full-time summer internship will begin May 19, 2014 and end Aug. 22, 2014. To apply, interested college juniors, seniors or graduate students should submit the application, a college transcript, two letters of recommendation and a resume to More information and the internship application are available on NCBA’s website.

“This isn’t a ‘check-the-box’ style of internship. NCBA’s public policy interns work alongside NCBA staff on critical issues ranging from agriculture policy to trade, the environment and more.” Butts said. “If you or someone you know is interested in this opportunity, we encourage you to apply.” – See more at from BeefUSA.

2014 Cattle Industry Convention Internships

(NCBA) government affairs office in Washington, D.C., is accepting applications for internships during the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 3-7, 2014. The deadline to submit an application for this opportunity is Oct. 27, 2013.

The Cattle Industry Convention is the oldest and largest convention for the cattle business. The 2014 event will be the 116th annual convention. The convention and trade show create a unique, fun environment for cattle industry members to come together to network and create policy for the industry.

“Our internship positions provide a unique opportunity for students to gain first-hand experience and to interact with leaders from every segment of the cattle and beef industry,” said NCBA Public Policy Analyst Mallory Gaines. “The convention internship program provides an excellent opportunity to network with people throughout the beef industry. NCBA strives to provide time for students to maximize their opportunities to network and learn during the upcoming convention in Nashville.”

The annual Cattle Industry Convention boasts over 5,500 attendees and a trade show with more than 250 booths. Interns are offered a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of setting up the trade show, manning the NCBA Political Action Committee (NCBA-PAC) booth, assisting with the NCBA-PAC auction, helping members vote on NCBA policy, working with the media and helping to guide cattlemen and cattlewomen to convention events.

To apply, interested college juniors, seniors or graduate students should submit the convention internship application, a college transcript, two letters of recommendation and a resume to More information and the internship application are available on NCBA’s website.


A Visit to Cayuse Livestock Co.

cayuse livestock montana bill donald

Yesterday, Lauren Chase had the opportunity to spend the day at Bill Donald’s Montana ranch, Cayuse Livestock Co. Bill is the current president of theNational Cattlemen’s Beef Association, past-president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association and founder of the Crazy Mountain Stockgrowers Association. He runs a ranch near Melville with his wife Betsy, sons, and grandchildren. On this visit, the crew was freeze branding in the calving shed. His grandson William helped him feed cows later in the day. To see more photos click here and to see an audio slide show click here