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Angus Productions Inc.
Copyright © 2009
Angus Productions Inc.

Policy Division Forum

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Jan. 29, 2009) — National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) members attending the 2009 Cattle Industry Convention gathered Thursday afternoon for the Policy Division Forum. NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Colin Woodall introduced Washington, D.C., office staff members and counted down the list of policy issues facing the association.

“There have been a lot of changes in Washington. The election was a watershed event, and the dynamics have changed,” Woodall stated. “But the sky is not falling. We have a new opportunity to tell our story, and President Obama claims to understand the importance of the livestock industry. We want to work with him.”

Woodall said the Washington staff is working to gain access and have input to the office of the new secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack. He admitted that not a lot is known about Vilsack’s agenda. None of his sub-cabinet members have been named, and NCBA remains watchful of candidates sympathetic to radical environmentalist groups, animal rights advocates and consumer activist organizations that oppose animal agriculture.

Woodall reminded the audience that many of the challenges are not new with this administration. Much of the work ahead involves dealing with familiar issues. On the environmental front, he expects introduction of legislation to expand the scope of the Clean Water Act and pose a threat to cattle producers. He expects continued debate on global climate change, and warns that much of the debate will not be based on science, but rather public perception.

Woodall said steps have been taken to initiate implementation of country-of-origin labeling (COOL), with both Canada and Mexico claiming it amounts to an unfair barrier to trade. One good thing, he said, is that producer compliance is relatively easy, simply by filing an affidavit. Another positive factor is that only visual animal identification is required. Woodall added, however, that the Obama administration has declared that COOL will be subject to review, which may open the doors to rule changes.

Also ahead is resurrection of the estate tax. Woodall said President Obama has expressed willingness to tweak the so-called “death tax” for the benefit of family farms and ranches.

Editor’s Note: This article was written under contract or by staff of Angus Productions Inc. (API), which claims copyright to this article. It may not be published or distributed without the express permission of Angus Productions Inc. To request reprint permission and guidelines, contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at (816) 383-5270.