AMES, Iowa — Limiting the growth of environmental regulations, expanding international trade opportunities, and exploring ways to limit market volatility are top priorities for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association in 2018. Last week’s Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit, also included discussions on immigration and animal health concerns.
The summit, which was held on December 7 & 8 in Ames, combined educational sessions with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association policy committee meetings and annual meeting.
The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, which has nearly 10,000 members statewide, uses advocacy, leadership and education to protect and improve Iowa’s cattle business. The 2017 ICA Policy Survey indicated that environmental regulations, international trade, and market volatility are the most important topics that producers want ICA to be working on. ICA has policy related to each of those issues and has been working on them continuously. Last week’s meetings were a chance to fine-tune those policies, as well as create new policy related to other important issues in the industry.
The association has three policy committees, which met on Thursday, Dec. 7: Beef Products, Business Issues and Cattle Production. The committee meetings are open to any ICA members, and generate organizational positions related to important topics affecting Iowa’s beef business. These policies drive the efforts of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and are used by staff and leaders in discussions with local and national elected officials and regulatory agencies.
The Beef Products Committee has strong policy supporting international trade, which is increasingly relevant as ongoing NAFTA negotiations and trade relationships around the world threaten the Iowa beef industry. Quote from Dr. Belk here?
No new policies were discussed in the Beef Products committee meeting.
The Business Issues committee heard an update from ICA lobbyist Kellie Pashcke on state legislative issues, including foreign animal disease and water quality funding, which remain a priority for cattlemen. Last year, with the support of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) was able to secure $100,000 in funding for foreign animal disease response, to protect Iowa’s cattle producers in case of an outbreak. This year, despite budget constraints at the state level, IDALS has asked for an additional $150,000, for a total 2018 appropriation of $250,000 for disease preparedness.
Over the summer, ICA members developed interim policy related to Iowa’s master matrix, the system used to evaluate new livestock confinements. A fair and reasonable master matrix is crucial for future growth of the Iowa cattle industry, and enables a new generation of farmers to invest in and strengthen rural areas of Iowa. The interim policy was approved by the committee.
ICA members, including past president Kent Pruismann, discussed the importance of immigrant labor to Iowa agriculture, particularly in northwest Iowa. “If we exported or deported all of the illegal immigrants in Sioux County, Iowa, our economy would collapse, plain and simple, there’s no question about it,” Pruismann said. Ed Greiman, another past president of the association, agreed. “We’ve got to figure out a way to make it simple, with a path they know they can follow to become legal citizens,” he said. The policy committee created an immigration task force to study the issue, and also passed policy supporting legal immigration and a pathway to citizenship.
Transportation regulations, including hours of service and electronic logging devices, have also been a concern for cattle producers, especially as new rules are scheduled to go into place soon. The committee approved policy supporting an exemption from these rules for livestock haulers. Livestock haulers often transport their live cargo long distances, and it is in the best interest of everyone involved to reach the destination with as few delays as possible.
The committee also created a CRP task force to study modifications to the current Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). CRP is expected to be revisited in the 2018 Farm Bill, and producers are concerned that the current program puts cattlemen at a disadvantage.
Funding for rural roads and bridges was also discussed, along with taxation of government owned land.
Cattle Production Committee:
Cattle markets are a continuing topic for the cattle production committee. The committee reviewed interim policy from the summer, including a policy that supported dividing USDA’s negotiated trade reports into 0-14 and 15-30 day delivery periods, in order to give cattle producers more detailed information on trades that have occurred. That policy was carried forward to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s summer policy conference, adopted by NCBA, and led USDA to make the requested changes.
Other market related policies included support for increased funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which provides oversight of the cattle futures markets, and support for the current daily price limits for Live Cattle and Feeder Cattle futures. Both of these policies are intended to reduce volatility in the market and manage risk for cattle producers.
The committee also tackled the issues of trichomoniasis in Iowa. A task force has been created to study ways to decrease the impact trichomoniasis has on Iowa’s cattle industry, and policy was passed to support increased testing for the sexually transmitted disease.
ICA Annual Meeting:
On Friday morning, ICA members ratified the new and amended policies at the annual meeting. Outgoing president Mike Cline of Elgin also turned over the leadership of the association to David Trowbridge from Tabor, IA, who will serve as president of ICA for two years.
— Iowa Cattlemen’s Association
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