PLC, NCBA meet with agriculture secretary
The Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen's Beef Association met with United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Chief of Staff Carole Jett, March 27.
The meeting focused on priority issues for the beef industry and livestock ranchers on federal lands, including trade, animal identification, and conservation.
"We had a positive and productive discussion today," said Skye Krebs, PLC president and rancher from Ione, Ore. "It opened the door for a constructive relationship with the new leadership of USDA."
NCBA president-elect and producer from Astoria, Ill., Steve Foglesong also attended the meeting. "Secretary Vilsack made a point to emphasize his commitment to increasing trade," Foglesong said. "We appreciate that he understands how critical it is to open markets for beef and remove unscientific trade barriers." Trade adds approximately $180 to each head of cattle marketed by U.S. producers; and export markets are integral to the strength of the American beef industry.
The representatives from PLC and NCBA also discussed animal identification. "Secretary Vilsack assured us that the National Animal Identification System must be workable for ranchers," Foglesong said. "We understand the need for an animal identification plan that is an effective disease surveillance and monitoring tool, but it must also serve the needs of our livestock producers on public and private lands." NCBA continues to support a voluntary, market-driven approach to animal identification that supports genetic improvement, source verification, and disease surveillance.
The meeting also touched on the livestock industry's partnerships with conservation groups to protect ranching and conservation in the west.
"Conservationists and ranchers both share the goal of preserving our western landscapes and keeping them accessible, healthy, and productive," explains Krebs. "It's a logical partnership and we look forward to working together with USDA to achieve our shared goals."
"This meeting was a great forum to explain our concerns to Secretary Vilsack," Krebs said. "We look forward to many more productive conversations with him and his staff."