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Cattle Producers to “Stampede” Capitol Hill

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HAY MAKER

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Cattle Producers to “Stampede” Capitol Hill



(Billings, Mont.) – More than 60 cattle producers from 19 states are gearing up to stampede into Washington, D.C., on Feb. 14, for the R-CALF USA’s annual fly-in. During Feb. 15 and Feb. 16, R-CALF USA members will meet with members of Congress, the Administration, trade officials, and officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to discuss issues impacting the domestic cattle industry.



R-CALF USA President and Region V Director Chuck Kiker, of Beaumont, Texas, said members will discuss topics ranging from Country-of-Original Labeling (COOL), the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), the upward global harmonization of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) standards and other animal-health standards, and international free trade agreements – specifically safeguards for cattle and beef, which are perishable and cyclical products.



“To compete effectively on a global basis, U.S. cattle producers must have the ability to differentiate their products from beef products derived from other countries,” said Kiker. “We also need Congress to help us keep our domestic markets competitive, and to restore that sort of competitiveness, we’ll have to work with the Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to make sure there’s transparency throughout the different segments of the beef-supply chain.



“We also need to see to it that Mandatory Livestock Price Reporting is restored in a valid, usable and transparent format,” Kiker continued. “And probably now more than ever, we need to make certain that Congress understands just how critical it is that the United States continue to uphold the highest animal-health and food-safety standards – standards that have always given U.S. beef products the highest reputation of all when it comes to safety and wholesomeness.



R-CALF USA National Membership Co-Chair Margene Eiguren, of Jordan Valley, Ore., said the Stampede is her chance to discuss with the Oregon congressional delegation issues that are important to everyday ranchers in her part of the world



“For too long, Congress has been led to believe that the meatpackers are the appropriate representatives for the entire beef-supply chain, and that what is good for the packers must also be good for the producers,” said Eiguren. “Only by joining R-CALF USA and participating in events such as this fly-in can we change this misperception. That's why this is such an important opportunity for us as U.S. cattle producers.”



South Dakota rancher Danni Beer, who chairs R-CALF USA’s COOL Committee, said she was very excited to have so many cattle producers sacrificing time away from their ranches to communicate industry concerns with Congress and the Administration.



“R-CALF members will use this opportunity to educate leaders about their businesses through meetings with government officials and members of Congress,” Beer said. “Government officials will have the opportunity to ask real ranchers how the decisions they make impact the U.S. cattle industry.”



R-CALF USA Member Ted Wishon hails from Colville, Wash., and serves on the organization’s Animal ID Committee.


“USDA, today’s U.S. live-cattle industry, and the deals the agency hands down to us – primarily the BSE situation and the proposed mandatory Animal ID system – are the key concerns I have and the reasons I’m making this trip,” Wishon said.



R-CALF USA Mississippi Membership Chair Joel Gill, of Pickens, Miss., said the Stampede is an opportunity for Congress to hear a unified voice from the grassroots cattle producers of the United States.



“On the playing field of world trade, it is vitally necessary that U.S. beef be distinguished from that of the rest of the world,” said Gill. “We produce the safest and highest quality beef in the world, and need to give beef consumers of the United States the same choice that consumers in the rest of the world have – to choose 100 percent USA product if that’s what they want.”



“The Iowa congressional delegation has been very receptive to us so far, so from all appearances, these folks are eager to meet with R-CALF and eager to discuss the issues important to us,” said R-CALF USA Region VII Director and Iowa Membership Chair Eric Nelson. “Former R-CALF President Leo McDonnell put the organization on the map, but now, the fact that the new president of R-CALF comes from Texas is going to give us a whole new level of credibility, especially when we have to battle against the misperception that R-CALF is just a ranchers’ group from the mountain states.”



R-CALF USA Government Relations Director Jess Peterson said members are paying their own way to participate in the Stampede.



“Their dedication and willingness to spend time away from their ranches to come out to Washington is greatly, greatly appreciated,” Peterson said. “This is outstanding – by far the biggest group R-CALF has ever had for a fly-in. When folks in D.C. hear of an issue that involves the U.S. cattle industry, they think of R-CALF.”



Peterson said that for the first time, R-CALF USA will host a reception for Congress, the Administration, media and others during the evening of Feb. 15.



States represented are: California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.



# # #



R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national, non-profit organization, is dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA’s membership consists primarily of cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and feedlot owners. Its members – over 18,000 strong – are located in 47 states, and the organization has over 60 local and state association affiliates, from both cattle and farm organizations. Various main street businesses are associate members of R-CALF USA. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.
 

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