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Agricultural News

Beef Industry Faces Numerous Challenges from Regulators and Activists

Mon, 20 Jan 2014 18:45:56 CST

Beef Industry Faces Numerous Challenges from Regulators and Activists

Scott George, a dairy producer and cow-calf operator out of the state of Wyoming is the current president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays visited with George about a variety of issues at the recent International Livestock Congress-USA in Denver. Topping the list is the challenge of raising beef in an unfriendly environment of activist groups who do not like the methods producers use.

"Our producers are always looking for ways to improve what they do. And we're all committed to producing a good quality product for consumers. Some groups raise concerns and we have to address those concerns because consumers also reflect those same concerns. And it's always a good time when we can get together and help educate one another, share experiences with one another. That's one of the reasons we sponsor Cattlemen's College at our national convention to try and educate producers about how they can look at things and possibly do things differently."

George says that their communications efforts must be resonating with consumers because he sees increased activities by activist groups to attack the funding mechanism of those programs, not only in the cattle industry, but in other animal agriculture sectors as well.

"Some of these groups have targeted the checkoff because they recognize that those dollars help us address consumers' concerns which keeps the consumers buying our product. So, they thought, 'if there's a way we can disrupt this, we're going to target checkoff programs.' And we're seeing it not only the beef industry but in the dairy and the pork industries as well. All their checkoff program are under attack. That tells me they're working. That's not a bad sign to me."

George says the amount of the beef checkoff has not been increased since its inception in the 1980s. As things have gotten more expensive over time, he says, they have had to cut back on their communications efforts since funding has not kept pace with costs. He says there are more and more calls for retooling the checkoff program to meet these realities. He says he has been speaking with other ag groups for the last two years about how they are addressing this same challenge.

"I'm real hopeful. We've seen some real progress and have made some progress and I'm hopeful that within the next year or two we'll be able to accomplish that."

Increasing regulations are another concern which producers face daily, George says. Just when they think they may have won a battle in that regard, regulators and interest groups redouble their efforts and open up a new front.

"We're seeing another assault on water from the Environmental Protection Agency. We're seeing challenges with the Department of Transportation and about having to have CDL licenses, trying to get some consistency across the country on weight limits. All of these groups and agencies keep coming at us again and again and again and we have to continually go back and say, 'All right, this is where our producers stand on these issues.' That does not go away. We need producers to be able to speak up and address these issues so that we can have some good legislation coming out of Washington, D.C."

George says that cattle producers who come to this year's convention February 4-7 in Nashville will have a tremendous amount to look forward to. He says there are numerous opportunities for continuing education, entertainment, and a trade show chock full of more than 300 exhibitors.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.



Scott George talks about renewed efforts by activists and regulators to hamstring animal agriculture.
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