Over 140 stakeholders testified at a hearing Thursday on the Environmental Protection Agency proposal to lower the biofuels targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2014, and those opposed to the plan outnumbered those in favor by a ratio of more than two to one.
The hearing, which lasted 12 hours, included livestock producers from Iowa who testified against lowered the RFS requirements. Among those testifying in favor of the proposal was National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) past president and Illinois farmer and rancher Steve Foglesong.
“I am a corn farmer, I just choose to feed it to cattle, it’s value added,” said Foglesong. “It’s not that different from the ethanol industry who takes corn to feed it into their plants and produce ethanol, dried distillers grains (DDGs), and carbon dioxide instead of beef. The process is identical, all but the RFS mandate, which gives the ethanol industry an advantage in purchasing corn. We’re not opposed to corn ethanol, but it’s time to look at reforming the RFS and let the market pick winners and losers instead of the government.”
The National Corn Growers Association had dozens of witnesses from around the country, but one of their best advocates was a young man with no ties to either side. “Coolest witness of the day at #RFS hearing: college student from Michigan drove in with E85 to testify!” tweeted NCGA. “He uses E10 in his lawn mower.”
All of those who testified at the hearing Thursday submitted written comments to the EPA regarding the RFS plan for 2014. Comments will be accepted until Jan. 28.
President Elect for NCBA, Bob McCan, is from Victoria, TX and he operates a 5th generation purebred commercial herd of Brafords. I spoke with him during the event and he shed some light on trade, immigration and the upcoming convention.
“Market’s right now are adding about $275 to $280 a head to every fed animal that is slaughtered these days. That’s significant and really adding to the bottom line. It’s helping our market and we are getting lots of opportunity with the Trans Pacific Partnership coming together. We are hoping in a few months we will have that finalized and it will knock down a lot of the tariff rates that we have had to contend with in the past.”
Bob said that immigration reform is a top priority for NCBA. He stressed the importance of eliminating a seasonal worker program and with a labor shortage it is important to have workers here on a more permanent basis. Coming from the south, border security is something that hits close to home for Bob and neighboring ranchers. He feels if there is an incentive for them to come over legally then the issue of a secure border is lessoned.
Nashville will serve as the home for the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show held February 4-7, 2014. Bob shared that the entertainment will be grand, the educational opportunities insightful and industry issues diverse.
Also during Trade Talk I spoke with Clay Burtrum, who represents Region 4 on the NCBA Executive Committee for the Federation of State Beef Councils. Clay talks about the history behind the Federation, it’s role in the Beef Checkoff and the relationship between them and NCBA.
“It’s our 50th year celebrating the Federation. We are housed under NCBA, but we are our own entity, our own face. We are the grassroots producers behind the Beef Checkoff.”
Education is the focal point of the Beef Checkoff program. Promoting beef to the millennial generation has been the objective and that means turning to social media to get their message out. Clay reminds us that this generation isn’t spending hours shopping for food. They are in there to get what they need for that nights meal. He says we have to have a safe, easily available product that they can cook in a timely manner.
Herd numbers are down this year in the beef community, but enthusiasm is high. Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) Chairman, Weldon Wynn was on hand at this year’s Trade Talk during the NAFB Convention. There is no doubt that the checkoff dollar is slim, but Weldon said they are making that dollar stretch.
Weldon went on to discuss our international market, how successful it has been and how much better it could be if we had the numbers. With the demand present, all we need to do now is grow our herds.
“Today in the foreign market with USMEF, one of our contractors, anytime we sell a calf we are getting back $234.00 in return for every head we are sending abroad. It’s really working in the foreign marketing end of it.”
The CBB has also put a lot of research into marketing to the millennial generation. And it seems social media marketing is key to educate this group of techies. They are sharing recipes online, answering questions via social media outlets and remembering the power of photo sharing.
The CBB and NCBA are also making final arrangements for this year’s Cattlemen’s Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. Music City will play home to the coveted event held February 4-7, 2014. Mark your calendars and plan your vacation to Nashville where you can have your voice heard on decisions that will shape your beef community.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) attended this year’s NAFB Trade Talk event and I spoke with Colin Woodall, Vice President of Government Affairs, while stopping by their booth. Colin voiced that it is an exciting time to be part of the beef community. He admits herd numbers are down, but that it means people are making money. Beyond cattle numbers he discussed a few other hot topics he and others on Capitol Hill are tirelessly working on to ensure beef production in the United States continues to grow and thrive.
The Farm Bill was a hot topic everywhere you went during Trade Talk, but Colin focused on one aspect of the bill that is front and center for NCBA.
“Country of Origin Labeling is one issue that we have to get fixed because right now we have a retaliation that is looming from both Canada and Mexico where they could should us out of their markets or add a surtax our markets probably sometime in late summer or early fall of 2014.”
Colin also brought up Federal Lands Grazing. Many farmers and ranchers utilize permits to graze federal lands in the western part of the U.S. Activists groups are pressuring for the removal of these permits.
“We have two pieces of legislation we are working on right now. One is to try and change the way the federal government approaches wildfires. To make sure we are managing federal lands in a way to mitigate the severity of wildfires. Then also we are trying put in place a Grazing Improvement Act that would make the process to get these permits a little bit more expedited and try and cut out some of the bureaucratic red tape we have to deal with right now.”
The beef industry relies heavily on international trade. On this topic Colin shared news on the Trans Pacific Partnership and what it means to producers and consumers alike. Continue reading →
The Cattlemen’s Beef Board will invest about $38.5 million into programs of beef promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications in Fiscal Year 2014, if the recommendation of the Beef Promotion Operating Committee is approved by USDA, following review by the full Beef Board.
In action concluding its two-day meeting in Denver this week, the Operating Committee — including 10 members of the Beef Board and 10 members of the Federation of State Beef Councils — approved checkoff funding for a total of 18 “Authorization Requests,” or proposals for checkoff funding in the fiscal yearbeginning Oct. 1, 2013. The committee also recommended full Beef Board approval of a budget amendment to reflect the split of funding between budget categories affected by their decisions.
The committee had to cut about $1 million total from proposals to meet budget requirements and, in the end, cut a total of $1.15 million.
Just one proposal submitted was cut completely, and that was a $100,000 request from the National Livestock Producers Association to help tell the beef story to consumers through participation on the established “America’s Heatland” program on public television.
The remainder of the cuts was achieved through reductions in budgets for the following programs: North American Meat Association’s veal promotion, “Moms, Millenials and More” communcation program, foreign marketing program, and Authorization Requests.
Representatives of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) will be squaring off to debate on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this week in Washington D.C.
AgriTalk and Agri-Pulse will be hosting the debate via broadcast and the web on September 12 starting at 11:00 am Eastern time live from the Longworth Building, Room 1300. Participants will be RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen and NCBA Vice President Government Affairs Colin Woodall.
“We appreciate the opportunity to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). America’s cattlemen and women are not opposed to renewable fuels; it’s the arbitrary mandate of their use that is at issue,” says Woodall. “This mandates places cattle feeders and the entire cattle sector on an un-level playing field for the finite amount of corn produced.”
“The Renewable Fuel Standard is decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, creating jobs, and revitalizing rural communities. I am all geared up to explain the facts and debunk the negative attacks,” Dinneen says. “It is an excellent time for this debate. USDA is expecting a robust corn crop and just last month USDA issued a report showing that food prices are rising at a slower rate than expected.”
Questions from AgriTalk and Agri-Pulse listeners and readers will be included in the debate led by Mike Adams and Sara Wyant. If you have questions on this topic, please submit them to Host@AgriTalk.com or to Sara@Agri-Pulse.com no later than Wednesday, September 11. The Agri-Pulse team will be live tweeting from the event @AgriPulse. Look for the hashtag #RFSdebate.
Our Beef Board Chair, Weldon Wynn, spoke with Chuck during the committee meetings during the recent Cattle Industry Summer Conference. Weldon was enthusiastic about the new committee structure and gave a positive outlook into the 2014 budget approval.
Some committee rooms had standing room only and that can only mean that members are more excited than ever to not only simply produce beef but have a say in the structure of the industry. Dollars might be down, but Weldon said, “We are doing more with less.” And continues to say we are moving forward.
“At this particular conference what we are trying to accomplish is we come together and talk to our people all over the countryside. CBB does not represent one state. We represent all of them, about 730,000 producers out there. We come here and talk about the issues facing us, give them a chance to speak their minds and we try our hardest to work through some of these things with our committee structure we have in place.”
Chuck spoke with Mark Lowery, Hay and Forage Specialist, during the event and Mark expressed how New Holland is excited to give support to NCBA members and share what their products can offer cattle producers across the country.
“New Holland is proud to partner with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in 2013 as a gold level sponsor. We have been really engaged with getting to know the cattlemen and getting to know their business, because of the products we offer to help support what they do. We think we’ve got the right tools to help them out. Kind of the ways we’ve been engaged is we unveiled a great partnership when we were down in Tampa at their annual convention. We had a great equipment display with a lot of great resources for producers to come up and ask questions. We are really excited to announce a member benefit program for NCBA members on April 1st of this year that really gives great discounts across our full line of equipment.”
“We are also engaged with NCBA and their issues. We know they have a lot of great issues they are working on to protect and defend agriculture and the future for the cattle industry. Representatives of New Holland attended the BC Legislative Conference with them back in April. And continuing that engage throughout their summer conference with our Club Blue event to really say thanks to all the volunteers who are out here.”
Scott George, NCBA President, chatted with Chuck during the event to give an overview of the business taken place. Discussions included the Farm Bill, feed prices, product demand and optimism throughout the beef community. Scott also explained more in-depth the challenge of border security and the need for a viable worker program.
“We are working on the immigration and border security, that is one of the top priorities that our members set for us this year. We are grateful that the Senate is keeping that discussion alive and we believe our producers should really be secure on the border. That’s our number one priority, the border needs to be secure. But then there is another part of it and that is we need a viable worker program so people can come in there legally and work. Not just in short-term. In some cases we have operations that need longer term operators and we need them to be able to come and work for a period, let’s say up to three years, before they do their touch back.”
The Cattle Industry Summer Conference was more than committee and board meetings. Education was a key element to help arm attendees with facts and figures they can take home and use in everyday conversations with familiy, friends and complete strangers about beef.
Chuck spoke with Dr. Jude Capper, Livestock Sustainablity Consultant, after she presented a talk on common myths about beef. She truly put the numbers into context for the audience and stated, “If we have no context then we have no way to assess if these numbers are big or small.” Here are a few of the myths she busted that will allow us all to talk beef with anyone and be able to explain it practically.
Beef’s Carbon Footprint
“We have a perception out there that modern ag is killing the planet. For example, cattle cause global warming, if we went meatless every Monday we could save the planet and still drive our Hummer. If we use Meatless Monday’s as an example, as a contribution to national carbon footprint, meat only contributes 2.1% so the other 97.9% comes from everything else we do. The perception is if we all went meatless, all 330 million people in the states, we could save the planet. But actually if we did that every Monday for a whole year it would cut out national carbon footprint by less than 1/3 of 1%. So really it isn’t that big of a deal, but people really think it is”
Hormones in Beef
“Hormones in beef. There are so many conversations about, “Well, I don’t feed my kids beef and dairy now because kids are growing bigger and developing faster and it’s because of the hormones used in the beed and dairy industry.” And it is true that beef from an implanted steer has more estrogen in it then beef from an non-implanted steer. But the quantities are still are really tiny. If we put that into context with the birth control pill thats taken by 100 million females every single day globally, each one of those tiny little pills contains 35,000 nano grams of estrogen. So to get the amount of estrogen from beef as you do from one tiny little pill, each female would have to eat more than 2,000 lbs. of beef per day.”
Grain-fed vs. Grass-fed
“If we look at grass-fed vs. corn-fed beef, for example. The assumption is that feedlots are bad, we need to do away with them, we need to make all of our beef grass-fed. And it is a great system. But if we want to make the 27 billion pounds of beef that we produce every year from grass-fed system we are going to need more then 65 million more cattle in the national herd. We are going to need an extra area of land, more than 75% of the land area of Texas, a huge amount of more land. We are going to need water equivalent to adding 53 million households to the staves and the carbon emissions extra to make the same amount of beef will be the same as adding 27 million cars to the roads every year.”
Advocating seems to be the all buzz here is agriculture, but the key to advocating is education. Recently, during the 2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference, the National Beef Educator of the Year Award was given to a woman who has gone above and beyond to talk beef wherever she travels.
Michelle Bartholomay, from southeastern North Dakota, operates a farm and ranch with her family. She told Chuck in an interview that she was honored to be recognized for doing something she absolutely loves to do. She has spoke to elementary and high school classes, Rotary groups and other organizations, seat mates on planes and anyone else who will listen to her wonderful story about beef.
She said, “The education on the beef industry isn’t a job, it’s a passion and a calling.” Information she shares is all fact based. She was selected to be on the National Beef Speakers Bureau, which utilizes USDA information and seeks NCBA and Beef Board resources as she prepares to educate consumers.
During the 2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver cattlemen and women gathered to discuss current issues, work on programs and initiatives to better the beef community. Committees met and workshops were attended too.
Chuck covered the event and spoke with former beef ambassador and current intern for the American National CattleWomen, Malorie Bankhead. Malorie hails from California and is a recent graduate of California Polytechnic State University, where she majored in agriculture communications. During the conference she held a workshop for cattlewomen on advocating their beef story and the importance of gaining consumer trust.
“We know that sharing our beef story is very important because if we don’t do that, others will share our story for us and chances are they won’t get it right. We have that opportunity to really step up and really be the advocates we wish to see in the beef community. Today I shared a little bit about utilizing facts and numbers and all these great statistics we have in the beef industry and kind of form that into a message. We are learning at this conference that the millennial generation is the kind of generation that we are really trying to go after and target with our beef messaging. We have learned that they really only accept short, sweet and to the point. So we can’t dump them with knowledge, we have to convey our message in short bits for them. Twitter is a great example of how to utilize that.”
Benjamin Turner is from Rapid City, South Dakota. He is a Ph.D. candidate studying Biological Sciences at South Dakota State University. He received his bachelors of science degree in Agriculture Business from Sam Houston State University. And then later received his masters of science in Agribusiness from Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Over the past year Turner has been a graduate assistant for South Dakota State University in the Natural Resources Management Department. His career goals involve teaching and developing useful teaching tools, such as a textbook on ecological economics and management so that students can make better decisions of consequence under real-world conditions. Turner’s Ph.D. Dissertation is: To Plow or Not to Plow: Investigating Grassland to Cropland Conversion in the Northern Great Plains Using Systems Thinking and Dynamics. He is expected to graduate in 2014.
John Wood is from Greeley, Colorado. He is a MS-MBA candidate in Food and Agribusiness Management at Purdue University. He received a bachelors of science degree from Colorado State University in Beef Production and Business Leadership & Management. For the past couple of years he has had several positions at JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding.
Wood has been involved in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Young Producers Council since 2008 and currently serves as the group’s chairman. He has also been part of many agricultural based clubs and teams. Wood’s career goals are to serve in an upper management position that allows him to employ a macro perspective as he helps lead, manage, develop and coach a high caliber team to obtain organizational objectives.
The National Cattlemen’s Foundation established this annual scholorship in 2007 to recognize outstanding students who plan to pursue careers in meat science and animal agriculture. W.D. Farr was the first president of NCF and also served as president of the American National Cattlemen’s Association, now known as NCBA. Farr’s career spanned 75 years in the beef industry.
Hello and welcome from the Cattle Industry Summer Conference. I’m Beef Board Blogging over at MyBeefCheckoffMeeting.com but sharing with you here when I can.
Let’s get started with thanking Merial for sponsoring the news room once again. We sure appreciate their support and the wonderful place to work out of.
I did an early morning interview with NCBA’s Chase Adams to get a preview of this year’s summer conference. There are 650 registered for the conference and it is a very working meeting for all the committees of the ANCW, NCBA and CBB. Listen in and learn: Interview with Chase Adams
I had no idea until last night that you could find a good steak and a lot more for a rustic sit down dinner at the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground. It’s the Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s Surf-N-Turf Steakhouse located in The Historic Barn. There are other choices like lobster, chicken, ribs and huge pork chops. But I’m heading to Denver today for the 2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference. So I chose beef and it was good!
I’ll be the Beef Board Blogger for the conference and you can find most of my stories on MyBeefCheckoffMeeting.com starting tomorrow afternoon.
I am also looking forward to the Club Blue Welcome Reception being sponsored by our friends at New Holland. New Holland also has a special deal going for NCBA members.
Exclusive Savings Offer on Equipment Built New Holland SMART!
You expect quality equipment to help you get the job done on your farm or ranch. That’s why New Holland offers SMART solutions with a full line of products to fit any operation. We’re proud to partner with NCBA to provide exclusive savings that add value to your membership.
Thanks for the work you do to keep the cattle industry strong in the United States!
“We don’t think death should be a taxable event,” said Thune, Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and member of the Senate Finance Committee. “We think you ought to give family farmers and ranchers and small business people those who work hard to build up that over a lifetime, the opportunity to pass that on to the next generation.”
“Can you imagine, you work your whole life to build up a next egg, to build up a family owned farm or business and when you die Uncle Sam swoops in and takes nearly half of everything you worked your life to save for,” asked Brady, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and a senior member of the House Ways & Means Committee. “The Death Tax remains the number one reason family owned farms and businesses don’t survive to the next generation and it’s time to end this immoral tax once and for all in America.”
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) told her personal story of how the death tax affected her family farming operation when her father was killed in a farm accident when she was just 21 years old. “I was shocked when I got a bill from the federal government that said because a tragedy happened to my family, I now owed them thousands of dollars,” she said. “For ten years I paid on a loan to pay the federal government what I owed them and it made it very difficult for our family business to survive. It made me angry and actually it’s the reason I ran for office.”
Former National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Steve Fogelsong of Illinois says he is a first generation rancher whose children have helped pay to build up the family operation. “And then when I kick the bucket, they’re going to get to do it all over again and pay for that – that doesn’t make any sense,” he said, adding that “farmers and ranchers aren’t a very bright bunch” because instead of taking vacations in Cancun or buying luxury cars they take the money they make and “plow it right back into that dirt.”
The video of last week’s press conference is below and here is a partial audio file with the opening statements of the members of Congress – Thune, Brady, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Noem, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – with Steve’s remarks at the end. 6/19/13 Death Tax Press Conference
The defeat of a five year farm bill in the House of Representatives was unexpected and disappointing to agricultural organizations looking forward to getting some certainty for the future after last year’s drawn out battle that ultimately ended in a one year extension of the 2008 bill.
“The American Farm Bureau Federation is highly disappointed the House did not complete work on the 2013 farm bill,” said American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman in a statement. “It was a balanced bill that would have provided much needed risk management tools and a viable economic safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers.”
National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson said they are not just highly but “extremely” disappointed to see the House fail to pass the bill. “Up to the last minute our organization has actively and consistently called for passage of the legislation,” she said. “We will be engaged in all efforts needed to secure passage in the House and bring the bill to Conference.”
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued a statement saying they are “deeply” disappointed, adding that “With today’s failure to pass a farm bill, the House has let down rural America.”
American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy voiced not only extreme disappointment but frustration as well. “Today’s failure leaves the entire food and agriculture sector in the lurch. Once again, the nation’s soybean farmers and the 23 million Americans whose jobs depend on agriculture are left holding the bag.”
Even the cattlemen are disappointed. “This failure by the House places cattlemen and women behind the curve on having agriculture policy which not only provides certainty for producers nationwide, but also incorporates priorities important to the cattle industry,” says National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Scott George. “This was not a perfect bill for any industry, but in the end cattlemen and women made sacrifices in order to support this bill. We expected members of the House to do the same.”
As to what happens now, no one really knows, but there are several options. The House could go back to committee and try again, which Rep. Frank Lucas is likely not excited about. They could go to conference with the Senate and try to negotiate with nothing as happened when the House failed to pass a transportation bill last year. Otherwise, they have to approve yet another extension unless they want to revert back to so-called “permanent” 1949 farm law. We’ve never done that, but that threat is always there.
“America’s farmers greatly appreciate the leadership and bipartisan efforts by the Senate to complete their work on the farm bill,” said National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson. “We also recognize the efforts put forth to address regional concerns to ensure all areas of the country are adequately represented in the final language.”
“We appreciate the Senate’s decision to protect and strengthen the federal crop insurance program and not reduce its funding, as well as the approval of a commodity program that provides farmers varied safety net options,” said American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman. “This approach to farm policy will encourage farmers to follow market signals rather than basing planting decisions on anticipation of government farm benefits. Most importantly, the program will be viable because the Senate stood firm on a budget savings level of $24 billion.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Scott George of Wyoming says while there is not a livestock title, the bill incorporates priorities important to the cattle industry such as conservation and research. “We are also pleased that disaster assistance programs are included in this legislation which is a positive step toward providing a strong safety net for our producers,” said George.
Suffice it to say everybody is pretty happy about it, except maybe Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) who was one of the 27 who voted against the bill. The full House is expected to take up its version of a farm bill next week.
Want to learn more about New Holland products and services available to cattlemen? The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is partnering with New Holland to answer producer questions about everything from field equipment, to maintenance, to quality haymaking.
Tune in as NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen goes LIVE from Denver, Colo., on Tues., May 21, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on RFD-TV. This special live episode will allow viewers to call in and speak directly with New Holland representatives about a variety of topics.
The program will be broadcast again on RFD-TV Wed., May 22, at 10:30 a.m. Eastern and Sat., May 25, at 9 a.m. Eastern. In addition, all episodes of NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen are available on the program’s website. The show is also on Facebook and can be followed on Twitter.