For Immediate Release Oct. 29, 2000
Contact Burt Rutherford
TCFA AND NCBA ARE PARTNERS IN PROGRESS
HALL TELLS CATTLE FEEDERS
In the early days of the cattle industry, choosing a good partner was critical. Your partner had to be someone you could "ride the river with," somebody you could depend on day after day, somebody who would still be with you when the trail got rough.
While the cattle industry is significantly different than it was in those days, some things still remain true-like your choice of partners. In that regard, said George Hall, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), the strong partnership between NCBA and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association has yielded positive results.
Just like the old days, partnerships are critical, he told cattle feeders at the TCFA "Partnering for Progress" Annual Convention in Oklahoma City. "We all recognize that in a country this large and an industry this large and diverse that we will seldom always see things the same way. But working together we can make a difference for a cattle industry that makes up only a fraction of agriculture-which itself represents just 2% of the population. We must stick together if we're going to have any impact."
Hall told cattle feeders that one of the biggest issues where sticking together has had a big impact has been the death tax. "For two years running, we've urged Congress to support complete repeal of the death tax-and won. But the President has vetoed the bill each time." This year, death tax gained a lot of momentum and there was strong bipartisan support for repeal, he said. "Working together with you, we'll take up the fight again next year. With the progress we keep making, we hope to see relief soon."
The international marketplace is another area where strong partnerships are necessary, he said. "Only 4% of the world's 6 billion people live in the United States. And our population is growing at a slower rate than those of other countries," he reminded cattle feeders. "If we're going to be successful as an industry over the long term, we must open up the markets in other countries to our beef."
NCBA believes that in the current world market, the answer isn't to make it harder to trade in the international market, but easier, he said. "In 2001, we expect to keep up the fight to streamline international trade by granting Fast Track authority for the President," he said. "And we were front and center during the push for Permanent Normal Trade Relations for China." Opening the Chinese market will eventually benefit the entire U.S. cattle industry. "Per capita beef consumption in China is 10 lbs.," he said. "It's 20 lbs. in Korea and 26 lbs. in Japan. So you can see the potential for beef exports in the Chinese market."
On the U.S. front, NCBA and TCFA have partnered to work on several important issues. "There are forces within EPA that are pushing to require more livestock producers to acquire permits. We're pushing and fighting back," he told cattle feeders.
EPA received heavy criticism from lawmakers and others in Washington, as well as from a broad coalition of citizens, for its handling of the Total Maximum Daily Load issue, Hall said. "So it's our hope that they'll lean this time toward common sense and science as they approach the (CAFO and AFO) rule."
On the consumer front, NCBA has made great gains by partnering with others. "On behalf of both consumers and the industry, we're working closely with USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services to assure dietary guidelines are scientifically developed and properly promoted," he said.
For instance, NCBA implemented a two-year strategy during the development of the Dietary Guidelines 2000 that were released last spring. "It was a tough two-year fight that included policy, public relations, nutrition research and science, issues management and our allied health professional partnerships. As a result, we were able to protect beef's position on the plate."
But the fight must continue, he said. "There are well-funded animal welfare and vegetarian-oriented activist groups that are dedicated to decreasing beef consumption. We must battle these groups every day to keep them from achieving their goals."
Hall said it's critical for cattle producers to have a presence in Washington. "And I think it's critical that we work together as partners to get things accomplished. We're proud to have TCFA as a partner in making it happen."
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