Issues, Issues and More Issues- OCA Director Says Cattle Producers Have a Lot on Their PlatesTue, 25 Feb 2014 13:11:56 CST
More than 8,400 people attended the recently-completed Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tenn. Michael Kelsey, executive director of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, says they are digesting what they learned there and beginning to inform their members on issues of importance that were discussed at the convention. (He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network's Ron Hays and you can listen to their full conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.
On national issues, Kelsey says there are a number of issues for Oklahoma ranchers and landowners to be concerned about.
"We learned a little more about APHIS's concept of regionalization of trade with Brazil and Argentina- The comment period has been extended by 60 days and we're communicating to our members to do that. So, that's one issue.
"Another big one, I think, and there's many others, but another big one is the EPA. I understand the EPA is going to issue some rules that will go again at this concept of navigable waters. And the key is they are going to try to define 'tributary' and some of the other key important terms as well as removing or modifying 'navigable.' That's something that we need to watch very closely."
Kelsey says that in the six years of the Obama administration the EPA alone has proposed several thousand new rules. The vast majority of them do not apply to agriculture, but that is no reason not to be concerned, he says.
"This just gives you a clue to this concept of governance by regulation that we are seeing. And it's easy to point fingers at this administration-and appropriately so, in many cases-but it's not something that's new. We've seen this for many years and, in our industry alone, we've talked about this concept of over regulation."
The recently-passed farm bill was a bittersweet proposition for Oklahoma ranchers, Kelsey says. The disaster provisions and conservation provisions should prove beneficial to producers. On the issue of Country of Origin Labeling, however, he says he still has concerns.
"While it's important that consumers have information, I don't think that for us that's the crux of the issue. When two of our largest trading partners are telling us they are going to retaliate, that scares me, to be truthful with you, especially in the market we're currently in-which is fantastic. But there is such a feeling of volatility in this market right now and any type of threat is something, I think, we need to take very seriously."
Rebuilding the nation's cow herd is also very much on his members' minds right now, Kelsey says, and forecasts for normal rainfall throughout the spring and summer are bringing optimism to the industry. There is still plenty of uncertainty and volatility that is tempering that, however, he says.
On a state level, Kelsey says the property tax issue is very much on their radar screen as many proposals have been introduced this session for funding government expenditures.
"We're spending a lot of time studying those. We're going to start asking some pretty detailed questions in the next couple of immediate weeks to understand exactly what these things look like and exactly long term and short term how are they going to affect property taxes."
Kelsey also says the OCA is closely watching several debates over private property issues as they affect landowners and cattle producers.
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