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Regional Meetings Part of Cattlemen’s Convention

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jan. 28, 2016) — According to Colorado rancher T. Wright Dickinson, it’s one more way the cattlemen can contribute to the industry’s game plan. That’s why meetings organized by geographic regions were convened Jan. 28, during the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention in San Diego, Calif. Dickinson said it’s part of the process by which the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) members prioritize issues of concern and shape association policy.

“It’s like a chess game. We need to be thinking ahead and planning our next move, and the next,” said Dickinson. “The NCBA board wants our input to help form a strategy.”

NCBA has divided the country into seven regions where cattle producers are apt to share similar challenges and concerns. Dickinson sits on NCBA’s Executive Committee, as a Policy Division representative for Region V, which includes the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Also serving on the Executive Committee is Idaho cattleman Dan Hinman, a Federation of State Beef Council representative for Region V.

Hinman urged beef producers attending the meeting to equip themselves for sharing information with their neighbors back home. More specifically, he advised them to gather the latest information regarding investment of funds gathered through the dollar-per-head beef checkoff.

A checkoff update session highlighted Fiscal Year 2015’s investment of $41.8 million in programs for beef promotion, research and information. A growing percentage of the budget was shifted toward establishing and expanding foreign markets for U.S. beef, since the greatest opportunity for long-term growth exists among the 95% of global population that is outside U.S. borders.

Checkoff-related news also illustrated the growing use of social media, even among cattle folk. During 2015, the reach of producer communications contacts made through the MyBeefCheckoff Facebook page grew by 219%, compared with 2014, with 848,000 posts. Facebook follower numbers climbed by 55% and Twitter followers grew by 34%.

Dickinson cited the industry need to encourage industry involvement by young beef producers, noting NCBA’s 2015 launch of the Young Beef Leaders Initiative. He introduced Colorado participant Matt Hunt, who explained the effort to prepare producers aged 21 to 35 years for engagement in the association’s policy development process. He strongly advised attendance of NCBA’s Summer Conference in Denver, where policy development is the primary focus.

Policy issues currently prioritized for 2016 include support of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement, which would ensure that technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures are nondiscriminatory and do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade. Other issues include reform of the Endangered Species Act, measures to protect the U.S. cattle industry against foreign animal disease and involvement in potential restriction of ionophore feed additives.

Additionally, NCBA will continue to oppose overregulation resulting from Environmental Protection Agency implementation of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rules.

A Montana contingent initiated conversation regarding the rescinding of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (mCOOL) and the rift between NCBA and producers that had supported the rule. It was suggested that a study group be formed to explore the potential for establishing a voluntary program whereby participating producers could capture “added value” represented by cattle born and raised in the United States. It was also suggested that NCBA push for reconsideration of protocols government agencies apply to response and management of wildfires on public lands.

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