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HAY MAKER

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R-CALF USA, NCBA presidents debate cattle industry issues

By SHANNON BURKDOLL, The Prairie Star editor



LEWISTOWN, Mont. - Trade policies, country-of-origin labeling and common ground topped issues discussed by presidents of the nation's two largest cattle and beef organizations during the Montana Winter Fair's farm forum debate, held last Thursday in Lewistown.

R-CALF USA president Chuck Kiker, a Texas rancher, and NCBA president-elect Mike John, a Missouri cow-calf producer, went head to head answering questions and debating issues presented by some of the more than 500 farmers and ranchers attending the high caliber debate.

Kiker and John addressed approximately 20 questions during the 70-minute debate.



The recent setback in Japanese beef trade spurred a couple questions regarding the trade policies of R-CALF USA and NCBA.

John acknowledged a mistake was made in sending a nonconforming product to Japan, but said he hoped the Japanese realized it is something the United States can work through. "It's been unfortunate that the Japanese have been hard to deal with," said John. "We will do what we can to get U.S. beef back in there, but I don't think the way we're set up now is the way it needs to end up."

Kiker agreed the current beef trade agreement with Japan is not favorable to the U.S. cattle producers. "The United States made a deal with Japan and agreed to take animals of any age, which does not comply with the nation's standards," he said. "Now, we're stuck importing Japanese beef all ages, when we have to supply them with beef under 20 months of age. It's disappointing."

Both Kiker and John agree bovine spongiform encelopathy (BSE) actions need to be based on sound science rather than political science.

In the case where Canada recently discovered another BSE case in Alberta, Kiker maintained the country, not North America, has a BSE problem and should not be considered a United States' trading partner until "they get their house in order."

On the other hand, John said the way the United States deals with Canada in trading terms sets the presidence for how other countries will deal with the United States in the case of a domestic BSE discovery. Furthermore, John said Canada's recent BSE discovery is proof the country's firewalls, which were based on scientific data from 90,000 BSE cases, are working.

"If you deal with trade from one country in a nonscientific manner, be prepared to be dealt with in the same manner from other countries," he said. "If the firewalls and specifics are enforced and followed, there will be no danger to those other countries."

Both John and Kiker expressed support of international trade. However, John said NCBA supports fair free trade that benefits the cattle and beef industries, such as the Central America Free Trade Agreement, which eliminated high tariffs imposed on U.S. cattle or beef imports to Central America when Central American beef exports were accepted by the United States tariff-free.

R-CALF USA, on the other hand, supports international trade agreements that provide safeguards for U.S. cattle producers. "R-CALF USA is for international trade, but you don't want to give away the ship when you do it," said Kiker, who noted the Australian free trade agreement provided quota safeguards for the U.S. cattle industry, whereas the CAFTA agreement did not. "The USDA needs to make the playing field level right from the get-go."

Some cattle producers expressed their belief that implementing a mandatory country-of-origin labeling law would help level the domestic playing field.

However, NCBA believes the current law is flawed, said John, and would do more harm than good.

"We were not presented with a rule that would gain return for the producer," he said. "It would require country of origin labeling only in establishments that sell $250,000 worth of produce. It would unlevel the playing field dramatically. We're open to a position that would return money to you, the producer, that's the direction this rule should go. NCBA opposes the current country-of-origin labeling law, not the idea, because it's a horrible law."

"It's the interpretation of the law that is horrible," countered Kiker. "NCBA is for a play on words; they think they need to sit around and wait on the packers to implement country of origin labeling so they can make money, but it won't make them money."

Kiker suggested the country-of-origin labeling law implementation would put an end to packer price manipulation. "The law was mauled through the interpretation process," he said. "We worked hard to get what we could in and we got most of what we wanted in. We need to work with it now and continue to work to get the backdoor politics to support it. The only impact will be that the packers won't be able to buy your cattle for nothing, consumers want U.S. beef, and packers have to come to you to get it."

The NCBA supports voluntary country-of-origin labeling as opposed to the mandatory law. "Voluntary COOL is already working," said John. "Retailers and food service industries are very interested in source verification and trace-ability. There are small packers that are putting out branded programs and participating in branded and source-verification labels right now."

Source verification and trace-ability programs are not COOL, countered Kiker. "Just because the imported beef product can be source-verified doesn't mean the consumer will get the information," he said. "We need to differentiate U.S. beef from that of the rest of the world. We raise the highest quality beef product in the world - that's why it is necessary to differentiate it. Voluntary programs are good in certain situations and can make that program a lot of money, but it won't make you any money."

Both NCBA and R-CALF USA agree the USDA grade stamp should serve as a country-of-origin label, marking the U.S. born, raised and slaughtered beef product, while marking imported product with other country-specific labels.

The two organizations also hold similar policies on eminent domain, estate taxes and property taxes.

Nevertheless, NCBA would have to move more toward the cow-calf producer thinking than packer/feedlot thinking for the two organizations to be able to provide the nation with a single unified voice for cattle producers, said Kiker.

"If they started to agree with us, our differences would be resolved real quick," he said. "We (R-CALF USA) represent only one segment of the industry, and NCBA represents more than one. There have been some real troubles with that."

John disagreed, noting the majority of NCBA members are cow-calf producers. "To say we cater to feeders and packers, is not based on truth," said John. "It's not fair, and I invite you to come and attend our convention next week and see for yourself."

Furthermore, John said he dislikes situations like the forum where the focus is put on negative, rather than positive, industry issues. "There is more opportunity in the industry today than we have had in a lifetime, as a result of working with programs to return more dollars to producers' pockets because NCBA believes in the opportunity to change," he said. "NCBA works with the producers who are willing to try something new, to go down a new road, and they are profiting."

Kiker disagreed, saying the NCBA programs and policies are more beneficial to packers rather than producers. "We are the U.S. beef and cattle industry," he said. "If the packers want to be multi-national, don't expect the U.S. cattle producers to stand by them. We need export markets ... The ag producers of this country are tired of being pawns in trade. We have to be able to differentiate our product. U.S. beef is king, and every segment of the industry should be able to capitalize on that."
 
A

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Haymaker- Where you been hiding? Hows the Senorita situation in south Texas? Good to see you back.....


Poor old Big Muddy was having Haymaker withdrawals- I was beggining to really worry about that boy :wink:

Nothing else has changed- SH still flapping his lips and saying nothing- NCBA and USDA daily being shown for the packer bought farces they are...Same-O Same-O...
 

Big Muddy rancher

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I wonder if Chuck took up John on the invitation to attend the NCBA convention?

Kiker disagreed, saying the NCBA programs and policies are more beneficial to packers rather than producers. "We are the U.S. beef and cattle industry," he said. "If the packers want to be multi-national, don't expect the U.S. cattle producers to stand by them. We need export markets ... The ag producers of this country are tired of being pawns in trade. We have to be able to differentiate our product. U.S. beef is king, and every segment of the industry should be able to capitalize on that."


Don't expect the Cattle producers to be 'Muti national" but we need "EXPORT MARKETS". Contradicted him self in one paragraph.


"U.S. beef is king" isn't it Homer that goes around saying I am so smart, I am so smart S , M, R, T, I mean S , M, A , R , T.
 

HAY MAKER

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Been back & forth,between the Hill country & South TX,bout like it always is,dry hot & dusty,with the border towns rampant with drug wars and shoot outs,I stay on the north side of the river,had a call this morning the Border patrol agents had a bust and recovered several bombs,guess it was just a matter of time till that started happening.Ole elmo crosses the border pretty regular,sez no drug head is gonna stop him from crossing the river,specially with those senoritas wearing no more clothes than a man could dust a piano with :wink: .................good luck
 

Denny

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Tell the truth now you got a new Belarus and could'nt stay out of it......
 

HAY MAKER

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Big Muddy rancher said:
I wonder if Chuck took up John on the invitation to attend the NCBA convention?

Kiker disagreed, saying the NCBA programs and policies are more beneficial to packers rather than producers. "We are the U.S. beef and cattle industry," he said. "If the packers want to be multi-national, don't expect the U.S. cattle producers to stand by them. We need export markets ... The ag producers of this country are tired of being pawns in trade. We have to be able to differentiate our product. U.S. beef is king, and every segment of the industry should be able to capitalize on that."


Don't expect the Cattle producers to be 'Muti national" but we need "EXPORT MARKETS". Contradicted him self in one paragraph.


"U.S. beef is king" isn't it Homer that goes around saying I am so smart, I am so smart S , M, R, T, I mean S , M, A , R , T.



I dont believe he contradicted his self by saying we need exports,it's the imports that are the problem :wink: .............good luck
PS Canadian Ambassador to TEXAS,my skinny R CALF ass.
 

HAY MAKER

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Denny said:
Tell the truth now you got a new Belarus and could'nt stay out of it......

Nope,I dont want anymore imported tractors,bout as useless as settin a milk bucket under a bull,some of these ole veterans catch you on their place with a imported tractor they will run you off,guess they think these ole 4020's will run forever...............good luck
 

Big Muddy rancher

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I dont believe he contradicted his self by saying we need exports,it's the imports that are the problem Wink .............good luck
PS Canadian Ambassador to TEXAS,my skinny R CALF ass.




Yea it's Haymaker :drink: , No imposter this time.

You should really lock up your computer when your gone cause some body was using it. They were really polite and agreeable. We knew it wasn't you. :cowboy:
 

HAY MAKER

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Big Muddy rancher said:
I dont believe he contradicted his self by saying we need exports,it's the imports that are the problem Wink .............good luck
PS Canadian Ambassador to TEXAS,my skinny R CALF ass.




Yea it's Haymaker :drink: , No imposter this time.

You should really lock up your computer when your gone cause some body was using it. They were really polite and agreeable. We knew it wasn't you. :cowboy:

Me and my multiple pesonalities are polite and agreeable,it's you packer employee's that are rude.................good luck
PS speakin of rude tell MIss Tam,to come to Texas fer a couple weeks I want to learn her some manners :shock:
 

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