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Agricultural News

OCA's Michael Kelsey Talks State and Federal Issues the Cattle Industry is Tracking

Fri, 10 Apr 2015 04:30:07 CDT

OCA's Michael Kelsey Talks State and Federal Issues the Cattle Industry is Tracking As the 2015 Oklahoma legislative session progresses, Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey said state senators and representatives are focusing more and more of their time on the shortfall in the state budget- and issues that might take even small amounts of additional resources to be successful are having a hard time gaining traction. Kelsey says that while OCA has some had some great momentum this session, it's difficult to be effective if you are trying to swim against strong current that is the need to reduce state spending..

Apparently, the cattle organization's push to increase penalties and prison terms for cattle thieves has run into the budgetary tide. "Sometimes it's just best to say 'ok, we're going to take a time out', kind of gather ourselves up and build on our momentum we have next year," Kelsey said. Because of concerns by some lawmakers that upping the discretionary power for judges to give longer prison sentences for hard core cattle rustlers will add to the prison population that has been called out of control by the Governor- the OCA Executive says the organization is going to take the rest of this year's legislative session to educate lawmakers about this cattle industry problem- and push for legislative action in 2016.

This allows OCA to pick back up next year without having to start the legislative process over again. With about 2,000 bills introduced at the beginning of session, Kelsey said you learn to be patient with the process.

One bill that is on the move in 2015 is HJR 1012, the "Right to Farm" amendment. Kelsey said this bill preserves the right to farm, which is very similar to the right to hunt bill that passed a few years ago.   At the earliest, the bill would be taken up on the Senate floor next week. Senate rules give lawmakers a week after a bill leaves the Rules Committee to study the measure and offer amendments, if they choose to do so. That leaves a tight window of when the bill can be heard and the "off the floor" deadline of April 23rd. If the bill is not taken up by the Senate before April 23rd, Kelsey said the bill doesn't die, it would simply be held over until the next session. Kelsey said this bill has been a very unifying effort for all involved in agriculture and OCA would love to see this amendment on the ballot in 2016.

Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Kelsey about the legislative session. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.

OCA continues to watch federal legislation as well. One of their biggest concerns is the proposed dietary guidelines put out by an advisory committee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. He said this year's advisory committee threw out science in recommending there should be no red meat or processed meats in the recommended diet for Americans and all protein should come from plant-based products. He said this goes against well produced, peer-reviewed science that has shown red meat is a solid part of a healthy diet. OCA is calling on USDA and HHS to reject the committee's proposal. The public comment period through the Federal Register continues through May 8th. Kelsey encourages everyone, not just cattlemen make their voice heard. This is one time where beef, pork and poultry producers will stand united together.

"Science says meat is part of a healthy diet, so that's what we need to say," Kelsey said. "I'm positive we are going to be successful on this, but we need to be vigilant. We have to establish that case and we need comments going in, so we can move forward in a positive manner."

The leadership team for OCA recently attended the spring meeting of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association in Washington, D.C. Kelsey said key federal priorities include passing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), tax reform and addressing historic designations.   Kelsey said TPA gives the administration the authority to negotiate trade deals, so the agreement can be voted on by Congress with an up or down vote.   He said OCA supports TPA because it extends beyond the current administrator and TPA is effective in promoting trade universally.

In looking at tax reform, Kelsey said there needs to be more permanency for the tax exemption known as section 179. Congress passed the exemption for calendar year 2014 in December last year, so producers had very little time to make major purchasing decisions. Kelsey says cattle groups want to see this provision, in particular, made permanent so producers in rural America can make better decisions that are not simply chasing a tax break.

OCA is also very concerned about an effort to designate the Chisholm Trail and Great Western Trail as National Historic Trails by the National Parks Service. Kelsey said OCA is very resistant to this proposal because the language in the designation is vague and allows more leeway for government agencies to establish regulations and guidelines based on that designation.   

Kelsey will be joining Hays for the weekly "In the Field" report on KWTV News 9 in the Oklahoma City market on Saturday morning at 6:40 a.m.


Ron Hays interviews Michael Kelsey, OCA Executive Vice President
right-click to download mp3


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