Legislators Wrap First Week of 2019 Session- OCA's Michael Kelsey Reports What's on Tap this YearThu, 07 Feb 2019 16:54:19 CST
The beef industry is facing a year ahead full of issues, both at the state level and federally. Producers from across the country converged this past week in New Orleans for the 2019 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show to meet and discuss several of these pressing matters amongst themselves in order to build an industry-wide consensus on the policies that should be adopted to move forward with. Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association was there, leading a delegation of OCA members as well, representing the interests of cattle producers in Oklahoma. He sat down with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn to recap some of the discussions had at that convention, and to report as well on the activities at the State Capitol as the 2019 Oklahoma Legislative Session gets underway. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
In review of the NCBA convention, Kelsey says the industry came together with a congenial spirit of cooperation on several topics that remain priority points of discussion, including the issue of “fake meat” and the push for USDA to assert its regulatory authority over the product. In addition, Kelsey says disease traceability was debated extensively, adding that while much detail is left uncertain - still significant progress was made. Finally, attention to trade and its boundless opportunities was paid by cattlemen in attendance who concur the industry must be bold and aggressive in its approach both in terms of commerce and policy. Here at home though in Oklahoma, the 2019 Legislative Session is just wrapping up its first week. Kelsey says with so many freshman legislators getting acclimated to their surroundings and the process of it all - things feel a bit like the first few days of school.
“There are so many new freshmen over there which is good from an energy and enthusiasm standpoint, but it’s challenging in terms of the process of how things go. Forget the issue - just how a bill moves forward. It’s a training process, you’ve got to get everybody acclimated,” Kelsey said. “But, we are moving forward, and we’ve got lots of friends over there.”
This session, Kelsey is closely monitoring several bills that have been introduced including some pertaining to private property rights; specifically, regarding ground water rights and eminent domain. One in particular, though, came at OCA’s own request with the intention to preempt any issues of “fake meat” that might arise in the state. Kelsey explained the purpose of the bill.
“The language just simply says you can’t call a product beef unless it comes from a cow. Put bluntly - unless it comes from a four-legged critter that chews its cud and speaks moo fluently, you can’t call it beef,” he remarked. “Now if a company wants to make meat, that’s fine. But how they label it - you just can’t use this term for that product.”
In addition, OCA is also rallying support for a bill authored by Senator Casey Murdock that, if successful, would make the ribeye cut the Official State Steak of Oklahoma. Kelsey says this is a great way to bring attention to the state’s No. 1 ag industry.
Just one week in, though, Kelsey says there is still much more to come as the new legislators and new Stitt Administration settles in to consider approximately 2,815 bills that were introduced for this session.
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