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HAY MAKER

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Subject: ND Forming New Cattlemen's Group





Ranchers change associations



Ranchers cutting the rope

By LAUREN DONOVBy LAUREN DONOVAN

Bismarck Tribune

August 7, 2005



There's a revolution down on the ranch.



The heat-heavy cows couldn't care less about the controversy stirring in the wind around them in North Dakota, across the Great Plains and beyond.



But long-established cattle associations, including the North Dakota Stockmen's Association, are threatened like never before.



One by one, cattlemen are voting with their feet. They're leaving traditional groups for something they believe will be better for them - "them" being the little guy, the cow-calf producer down on the ranch.



Some North Dakota cattlemen hope to give their peers the same boot tracks to follow. They're working on an alternative to the North Dakota Stockmen's Association, which was established back in the dusty days of 1929 and has about 2,800 members of an estimated 12,000 cattle producers in the state.



If they're successful, they'll join cattlemen in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, where new associations have formed, or, in the case of South Dakota, a takeover has occurred. :wink:


They plan to call the new association the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota.



They say they are not radicals. They say they just want to make their own voice heard loud and clear, instead of belonging to an association that blends their voice with the very voices speaking against them.



The independent group has had some preliminary meetings and plans to get rolling in earnest this fall.



Pat Becker, a Selfridge rancher, is the co-chairman. Becker said North Dakota is long overdue for an association that represents producers and doesn't have an affiliation with the meatpackers.



The North Dakota Stockmen's Association is associated with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which represents producers and packers alike. Becker said the association works against guys like him. The big meatpackers like Cargill and ConAgra want to buy cattle on the cheap, while producers want to sell high, he said. It's not possible for one association to represent both interests, Becker said.



For example, producers want Country of Origin Labeling, or COOL, because they believe consumers will buy American beef if given a choice. Packers don't want COOL, because they want to mingle American beef with imported beef, Becker said.



He said his group tried to work within the North Dakota Stockmen's Association by asking the board to disassociate with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, even presenting a signed petition.



No dice.



The group tried to position like-thinkers on the board at recent elections.



No dice there, either.



Undaunted, Becker and eight other ranchers decided to go a new direction.



The direction is mapped. Ranchers in other states have already been there, and they have the example and reputation of R-CALF, which stands for Ranchers-Cattlemen's Action Legal Fund. It's fair to say the seeds of the revolution in cattle country were sown by R-CALF, which started from nothing in 1999 and most recently has been in the news for ongoing litigation over the Canadian border reopening to live cattle imports last month.



Bill Bullard is the chief executive officer of R-CALF, which is headquartered in Billings, Mont. He said his group filled a void for cattlemen who felt disenfranchised by the national association and who couldn't see it changing, either. The group claims 18,000 members, rivaling the national association's 24,000 and focuses exclusively on live cattle producers, Bullard said.



There are 1,400 R-CALF members in North Dakota, including the possibly threatened North Dakota Stockmen's Association. Wade Moser is the association's executive vice president and a well-known voice and face across North Dakota. Moser said he's concerned by the move to form a separate group, especially since the North Dakota Stockmen's Association was among the first states to join R-CALF and helped get $100,000 in state money for the group's legal battles.



Moser said stockmen's members would be ill served if the relationship with the National Cattleman's Beef Association were discontinued, because it's strong on environmental and health and safety issues. At the same time, R-CALF is strong in trade and marketing issues, Moser said.



"If they're (Becker and others) rocking our boat, I hope they're rowing, too," Moser said. "We're all heading in the same direction."



Bill Adams, a cattleman from Steele, is a former board member with the North Dakota Stockmen's Association.



Now, he's one of the independent organizers, along with Becker.



He said he hates to see a new group start up. At the same time, he believes the Stockmen's Association is missing the boat by, for example, not taking a position on the Central American Free Trade Agreement. R-CALF strongly opposed the trade agreement because of how it will unfavorably position higher-priced American-raised beef in the export market at the same time cheaper imported beef comes in, Adams said.



Adams said he believes the new independent group will give North Dakota ranchers an organization that fights for their interests and won't be neutral on important issues.



Moser said the Stockmen's Association has carried the water on producer issues for a long time on many fronts. He said no member proposed a resolution on CAFTA one way or another, though Becker said the stockmen's association has talked about leaving R-CALF.



Chris Abbott, a Nebraska rancher, helped organize the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, inspired by R-CALF's focus on producer-only interests. Abbott said he believes that if cow-calf producers survive at all - and Bullard said there are 100,000 fewer than there were even a decade ago - it will be by breaking away from a one-size-doesn't-fit-all national association.



He said the movement in Nebraska and other states wouldn't be happening without R-CALF's lead.



"I think people are tired of getting run over. I think (an independent group) is a great move for North Dakota," Abbott said. "If we're going to survive, we have to go back to the way it was 30 to 40 years ago with organizations that represent the separate interests."
 
A

Anonymous

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Seperation of progressive and regressive is a positive move. Let the blamers blame and let the factual based organizations forge ahead.

I like the idea. Less internal fighting between the "factually based" and the unsupported rhetoric of the blamers.

The progressives can work towards a common goal of serving the consumer with better beef products while the blamers work to sue packers and stop foreign trade.

Corraling the blamers into their own self destructive blaming little groups can only be a positive move for the progressive forward thinking producers.


~SH~
 

HAY MAKER

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~SH~ said:
Seperation of progressive and regressive is a positive move. Let the blamers blame and let the factual based organizations forge ahead.

I like the idea. Less internal fighting between the "factually based" and the unsupported rhetoric of the blamers.

The progressives can work towards a common goal of serving the consumer with better beef products while the blamers work to sue packers and stop foreign trade.

Corraling the blamers into their own self destructive blaming little groups can only be a positive move for the progressive forward thinking producers.


~SH~

What are you gonna do sh when the only"factually based"packer lovers left in the mncba are you and one old hag :wink: .............good luck
 

CattleCo

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Helll, we have thre political parties why not 3 cattle Groups. I hope the arogrance of this new group does not match the R-Calf/NCBA Beef / AAA, membership. :lol:
 

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