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NCBA members vote on policies to address cattle industry challenges

Members of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association approved a number of policy resolutions and directives to further critical industry priorities on July 18. The resolutions were passed by vote during the membership meeting at the culmination of the annual Cattle Industry Summer Conference.

"In this unprecedented economic and political climate, it's more important than ever that we have a clear strategy in place as we move forward to address the challenges facing the cattle industry," said Gary Voogt, NCBA president. "I'm extremely pleased with our discussions this week and I'm confident that these new policies will set us on the right course for a more profitable industry."

Animal identification was one of the most popular topics of discussion at the conference. NCBA's members voted to work towards an efficient national animal identification system that meets the needs of beef producers, while minimizing additional costs and maintaining confidentiality of producer, animal and premises information. NCBA will also work to ensure the system operates at the speed of commerce, integrates private-sector databases, and is phased-in within and between species. NCBA policy continues to support a voluntary NAIS and strongly encourages all producers to acquire premises IDs.

Members also voted to amend current policy with regard to the H-2A Jobs Program. NCBA policy continues to call for meaningful immigration reform and supports passage of "The Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act," which would streamline the current H-2A program and make it more workable for the cattle industry. The amended policy recommends that provisions in the AgJobs bill ensure that all livestock workers are treated fairly and that the legislation retains provisions to address the unique and specialized occupations required for livestock production.¬ 

Members also approved a new policy to learn more about an emerging cattle virus with similarities to Bovine Viral Diarrhea recently discovered in South America and southeast Asia to determine if surveillance is needed in the U.S. The policy encourages the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to adhere to and implement strict international biosecurity measures for pestiviruses, addressing shipment of animals and animal products.

In public lands news, as the number of big game animals increases in certain regions, state game management agencies have been unsuccessful in maintaining targeted population numbers.¬  Because these big game can damage private pastures used for grazing cattle, maintaining a level population is important for cattle production.¬ Big game animals tend to seek habitats on wildlife refuges and parks during hunting season, which prevents them from being hunted, and prevents game management agencies from managing their populations.¬ For this reason, NCBA's members voted to request that the Department of the Interior authorize hunting of big game on these refuges and parks, similar to the programs currently in place for water fowl.¬ 

In order to increase efficiency in the purchase and sale of livestock, it's critical that certified local scale facilities are readily available. The Packer & Stockyard Administration mandates that livestock weights for purchase and sale must be from a scale certified twice per calendar year.¬ Members resolved to work to streamline this process by urging the Packer & Stockyard Administration to allow all channels of trade on certified scales officially inspected within the previous 12 month period or in accordance with individual state statutes.

"There was lively discussion of all issues facing our industry, from government regulations to food safety," said Voogt. "Meetings like this provide a forum to share knowledge and reenergize our industry as we work together to address the challenges that lay ahead."¬ 

Nearly 800 cattlemen and women attended this year's conference, held July 14 to 18, in Denver.



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