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SCLA votes against CCA affiliation

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Tommy

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SCLA votes against CCA affiliation







By MIKE HARRIS

At the Southern Colorado Livestock Association meeting held on Saturday, Jan. 28, in Kim, the group discussed several issues and elected new officers.

The issues discussed at the meeting addressed the Colorado Cattlemen's Association, the National Animal Identification System, and expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.

SCLA President Kimmi Lewis put the issue of whether or not to re-affiliate with CCA up to a vote amongst some debate from some members of the SCLA. However the SCLA voted not to affiliate with CCA this year, and are one of two Colorado cattlemen's associations so far who have cut ties to the nation's oldest state cattlemen's association. The other cattlemen's association to cut ties is the Crowley Kiowa Lincoln association.

According to Lewis, the reasoning behind the decision is simple - the CCA hasn't represented the SCLA on issues that are important to area ranchers.

Lewis recounted how at the last CCA convention she and others from the SCLA had worked very hard to get five initiatives from the SCLA into committees, and when they got to the convention they found that many of their initiatives had not been put on the committees' agenda.

Lewis said that if she hadn't attended those committee meetings, the CCA would have put those issues off until next year, if they got to them at all.

Lewis and others feel the CCA no longer represents the small cattlemen, and while SCLA past President Gary Mayfield urged the members to stay affiliated for the sake of affiliation, the members voted to unaffiliate with CCA.

In accordance with this, the SCLA also voted to change their bylaws so that SCLA officers no longer were forced to hold a CCA membership if they didn't want to. The bylaws previously stated that SCLA officers were required to also be members of CCA.

Lewis said the CCA won't listen to the SCLA, no matter how many members they have.

The group also discussed the National Animal Identification System to get a better understanding of what it means to them.

John Reid of Reid Cattle Company north of Ordway and vice president of the Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association, addressed the SCLA about the National Animal Identification System.

Reid said that while those in the cattle industry generally understand the reasons behind an ID system, and are supportive of those aims - track of outbreak of animal disease within 48 hours, and is also intended to help fight possible eco-terrorism - there are things about the NAIS that many people are not aware of.

Such as the fact that it's not only livestock that is covered under the system, according to Reid and others, it goes all the way to exotic fowl. So if someone owns a parrot, parakeet, or a canary, it will need to be registered with the federal government. Additionally, according to the NAIS Web site, if you own horses, they will need to be registered, but say a rancher wants to “neighbor” their horses, and help out a neighbor with calfing or branding, or take their horses out for a trail ride - anytime an animal is moved - they will have to check those horses in and out and record that activity on the national database.

According to the Web site, that also applies to any registerable animal that might be taken off premises for animal shows or any other event.

The Web site says the eventual goal is to have every animal in the U.S. registered in this database, and that currently the NAIS is a voluntary program.

“That's all well and good, but the question is, where do we go from here?” said Reid.

It's when it becomes mandatory that has Reid and other ranchers concerned. According to Reid the way the system is currently set up is highly inefficient, there are many questions about what animals will need to be ID'd, how secure the database that the information will go into will be, and the cost of the system passed on to producers and animal owners.

The NAIS proposal as written requires each animal owner to register their premises at the cost of $10 a year to the state and must re-register every two years. A premises registration certificate is required, even if it's a personal residence.

Reid said that the program is expected to be mandatory by 2008, and that 4-H has been told by the state that they will need to have premises registration's and ID's to compete in the fair.

Brooke Balenseifen of the Otero County 4-H extension office confirms that 4-H is expected to follow the requirements of the NAIS act, but added that it's not mandatory currently and isn't expected to be until 2007-08.

“How far is too far?” said Lewis, a question echoed by many in attendance who repeatedly mentioned “big brother” in their personal discussions regarding NAIS after the meeting closed.

Regarding the PCMS, Lewis had attempted to get representatives from Ft. Carson to attend the meeting, and answer questions about the proposed expansion and they had refused.

Many members of the audience felt that it was perhaps a bit underhanded for representatives of Fort Carson to hold public meetings in Colorado Springs, and Pueblo to discuss the expansion, and refuse to give any information to the communities directly affected by it.

“Why are they keeping it hush hush?” asked rancher Jerry Winford.

Lewis responded that she thinks they are keeping it quiet because if just one rancher in attendance got in the national news about the way the expansion was being handled they wouldn't be able to get funding for it.

According to Lewis, there are still many more questions than answers regarding the PCMS. Lewis requested members to start a letter writing campaign to their state and federal representatives asking them to put an end to the Army's stonewalling campaign and provide answers.
 

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