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Agricultural News

Cattle Industry Conference Gets Underway in Denver on a Positive Note

Wed, 07 Aug 2013 16:43:45 CDT

Cattle Industry Conference Gets Underway in Denver on a Positive Note
Cattlemen and women are gathering in Denver, Colo., to help create the direction for cattle industry at the 2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference Aug. 7-10. More than 650 producers and other industry participants are in attendance at the event, which features meetings of National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), Cattlemen's Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB), American National CattleWomen, Inc. and National Cattlemen's Foundation.

The Cattle Industry Summer Conference is where cattle producers discuss current issues as a group, work on programs and initiatives and set the course the industry should take with various projects for the betterment of the beef cattle industry.

Scott George, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network's Ron Hays before the conference officially got underway. You can hear their full conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.

George said the overall attitude of cattle producers this year is more optimistic than last year. The drought which was pinching producers last year has eased somewhat and thoughts are returning to expanding the nation's cow herd.

"We've got good demand for our product domestically and internationally, but you've got to have enough supply to be able to meet that demand. So, we would like to encourage people to go ahead and increase their herds, get that cattle herd back up to where it needs to be."

As for the problems facing the industry, George said the lack of a farm bill has to be the number one issue on producers' minds.

"We keep thinking we're going to make some progress, we do make some progress and then there seems to be a step back. We're hopeful we still have got time this year to get something through Congress and get some relief from this problem."

He said there are many opportunities that are also presenting themselves to the nation's cattle producers.

"We're really optimistic about export opportunities. Japan has now overtaken Canada as our number one export market for value. So we're seeing some export increase opportunities as well and that's always good."

As for the future of domestic demand, George said he is somewhat concerned that tight supplies are causing higher retail prices which are reducing beef demand.   He says marketing efforts are underway to remind buyers of the high value they receive when they buy beef.

Another issue of importance to many cattle producers, George said, is the need for additional workers across all segments of agriculture. While some sectors make use of predominantly seasonal workers, other areas need trained employees year-round. It's no secret that immigrants make up large portion of the laborers in agriculture today and George says it's an issue that isn't going away and needs to be addressed properly.   

"We believe, first and foremost, that the border needs to be secure. And then we need to have a viable worker program so that people can come here legally-workers with legal documentation-and can do their work and then go back home. We feel this is really, really important. If we could get a good legal worker program, we feel like a lot of the illegal crossings would probably cease. We're not talking about pathway to citizenship on this deal at all. We're talking about a worker program. The citizenship thing is a whole 'nother ballgame; it's related, but it's not part of what our stand is.

"We've been encouraged that Congress has actually even taken this up and started looking at it because it needs to be looked at, it needs to be addressed. Again, I'm afraid, as we look at Congress, we're seeing some stalling and backpedalling and we're not sure we're going to get too much movement on this in the end."


Ron Hays talks with Scott George about issues to be addressed at the Cattle Industry Conference.
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