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SASH

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Fund-raisers gird R-CALF for court battle over Canadian beef




FARGO, N.D., Mar 01, 2005 (Agweek Magazine - Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News via COMTEX) -- It seems like they've all had fund- raisers by now, and they keep having them.

Bill Bullard of Billings, Mont., chief executive officer of R-CALF USA for the past four years, says ranchers have contributed about $750,000 toward the group's action against the scheduled reopening the Canadian border to live beef on March 7, in the wake of concerns over mad cow disease.

"They are keeping up with the legal bills," Bullard says. "They are allowing us to take the necessary steps to protect the interests of cattle producers."

Kerby Krebsbach, co-manager of Sitting Bull Auction Co. in Williston, N.D., who had another fund-raiser scheduled Feb. 28, says he doubts there will be any kind of "border action" if the legal challenge isn't successful.

"If it isn't successful, they're going to open it, and they're going to end up ruining our market if we get a BSE case," Krebsbach says.

Bullard says there has been almost no discussion about a border action.

"I think it's more constructive and effective to pursue the legal channel. We're also aggressively lobbying in Washington and we're working to create greater public awareness for this issue."

R-CALF USA filed a lawsuit Jan. 10 against USDA that asked the U.S. District Court in Billings to overturn the U.S. Department of Agriculture's final rule that, on March 7, would reopen the Canadian border to live cattle younger than 30 months of age and additional beef products. A hearing on R-CALF USA's request for a preliminary injunction is set for 8 a.m. March 2 before U.S. District Judge Richard S. Sebull in Billings.

Unlike a previous case, which was heard in chambers, this hearing is open to the public although no electronic recording devices are allowed. Dec. 29, USDA announced its final rule on "Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy; Minimal-Risk Regions and Importation of Commodities."

The rule is under a 60-day congressional review. The rule will take effect March 7 if Congress takes no action to modify or reject it.

R-CALF USA's suit suggests that Canada's risk status should not be considered "minimal." R-CALF USA contends that USDA's only risk assessment of the U.S. possibility of importing BSE or having BSE spread because of trade with Canada is "low." USDA did not offer what their definition of low is, the suit says.

Further, R-CALF argues USDA's final rule contains several substantial changes from the preliminary rule and these changes never have been subject to public or industry comment. The final rule only is subject to congressional review, meaning that only Congress and ultimately the president have the authority to revoke the rule.

There are several members of the Senate who have invoked this privilege and have filed a Joint Resolution of Disapproval. For the resolution to remove the rule, both the Senate and the House must agree and then the president must sign the resolution as well.

Meanwhile, there was a hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington Feb. 23 involving a suit by American meatpackers. The meatpackers want an injunction to lift all restrictions on Canadian shipments, including animals older than 30 months.

Leo McDonald, R-CALF president, says if the rule goes into effect, USDA's own economic analyses indicate "the U.S. cattle industry to lose as much as $3 billion per year during the next five years, once the border is reopened, and the agency implemented absolutely no safeguards to protect against the volatility that will result in the U.S. cattle markets after the rule is implemented."

Krebsbach says Donny Nelson of Keene, N.D., will donate a calf, which will be auctioned. It's the third animal he's donated at calf sales in the area.

"R-CALF is a nonprofit organization -- the only one we've got going that's not afraid to stand up to the packers, USDA or anybody else," Krebsbach says.

Krebsbach says Canada hasn't followed animal byproduct feed rules, even as late as a few months ago.

"They were supposed to check 30 percent of their animals going to slaughter," Krebsbach says. "They've checked 5 percent while the U.S. has checked 30 percent."

Marlyn Hagen, sale barn manager for Northern Livestock Exchange in Minot, N.D., was set to hold a fund- raiser Feb. 25 using another Nelson-donated calf. Northern Livestock Exchange raised about $1,000 at a fund- raiser about a year ago.

Hagen is incensed that USDA guidelines weren't followed in allowing certain classes of Canadian beef.

"I just don't see it opening on the 7th," Hagen says. "It could be April, or May."

Markets already are showing the effect of opening the floodgates, Hagen says. In the past two weeks, calves weighing more than 700 pounds have dropped $6 to $8 per hundredweight.

Heavier calves that have to go to a feedlot aren't worth as much as lighter "grass cattle." The lighter, "green cattle" will be marketed the end of August and September.

In January, $150,000 was raised and February will be "that or more." Of course, we've got to pay for experts, It depends on what happens on March 2. If we win, wonderful. If we have an appeal, we'll have to move forward."

The Winner (S.D.) Livestock Auction Co. also was scheduled for its third fund-raiser Feb. 25. R-CALF is offering a free annual membership for anyone who donates $50.

Here are a few of other totals from recent R-CALF fund-raisers:

--Lanesboro, Minn.: Feb. 18. Lanesboro Sales Commission nets $17,500. "We put a speakerphone near the auctioneer's microphone and asked Leo McDonnell to talk to the crowd by telephone. We had a packed house, but when Leo began to speak, you could've heard a pin drop," says Joe Nelson, owner-operator. "It was an extremely successful day."

--Sidney, Mont.: Feb. 16. Cattlemen gathered at the Sidney Livestock Market Center and raised more than $20,000 for R-CALF USA and $800 for Montana Cattlemen's Association. Calves were donated for the sale by Dale and Jay Rosaaen, McMillen Ranch Inc., Thomas and Katherine Irigoin, Jack Holmquist, James Helmer, Bidegaray Brothers and Loren Schledewitz.

--Bloomington, Wis.: Feb. 11. Bloomington Livestock Exchange held a fund-raiser that netted $21,000. It is the only "second-round R-CALF sale" to be held east of the Mississippi River.

--Dickinson, N.D.: Feb. 15. Stockmen's West, raised $10,000 in its in third auction, with calf donation from Jeff Helling, Golden Valley, N.D., in a "rollover" auction.

--Dunlap, Iowa: Jan. 28. Dunlap, Iowa, Dunlap Livestock Auction, $26,000.

--Chinook, Mont.: Jan. 28. Bear Paw Livestock Commission, $25,861.

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) claims to represent thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national, nonprofit 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 -- more than 12,000 -- are located in 44 states. The organization has more than 55 local and state association affiliates, from both cattle and farm organizations. Various Main Street businesses are associate members of R-CALF USA.
 

SASH

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Krebsbach says Canada hasn't followed animal byproduct feed rules, even as late as a few months ago.

"They were supposed to check 30 percent of their animals going to slaughter," Krebsbach says. "They've checked 5 percent while the U.S. has checked 30 percent."

I think this fellow has been misled. I wonder who would have given him this information? :roll:
 

Bull Burger

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Markets already are showing the effect of opening the floodgates, Hagen says. In the past two weeks, calves weighing more than 700 pounds have dropped $6 to $8 per hundredweight.

Heavier calves that have to go to a feedlot aren't worth as much as lighter "grass cattle." The lighter, "green cattle" will be marketed the end of August and September.

Um..........Is this any different than other years?
 

Murgen

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Reader, you're probably right, but why can't they make a whole truth statement, why does it always have to be a half-truth.

I still believe one of the reasons consumer confidence in Canada never floundered was because all our organizations being on the same page about this and being totally upfront.

Half truths will only discredit you/your cause later, when there really is a wolf.
 

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