Despite Challenges, NCBA's Jennifer Houston Says Beef Industry Remains Upbeat About the FutureFri, 29 Mar 2019 15:30:56 CDT
At the 2019 Texas & Southwest Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth, Texas, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays sat down with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jennifer Houston to discuss some of the top priorities the cattle industry is tackling right now. On Houston’s short list, she mentioned that the first three or four items were reserved for trade, underscoring the importance of the issue. Beyond that, though, she says the members and staff of the NCBA are watching closely issues such as animal ID and disease traceability, the Hours of Service rule and its restrictions on livestock haulers as well as the process to replace the current Waters of the United States rule. She talked at length about these issues and more during her interview with Hays, which can be heard in full by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
Regarding the ongoing negotiations and processes to firm up several trade relationships with other countries, many of which lie in limbo with critical decisions yet to be made - Houston says the matter of trade continues to be a top concern for the beef industry. As the key to maintaining current success and in order to support future success for the beef industry, Houston says the US must soon move forward on the agreements that would foster more certainty in the marketplace and grant the US greater access worldwide. She says that as our nation’s competitors gain advantage over the US under pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, American producers are starting to fall behind and missing out the opportunities that could be capitalized on if the politics of these situations were resolved.
“The USMCA certainly is important. We think that’s so important to keep that same access for beef for those partners. In Japan, come April 1, our competitors will get another bump down that are in the (TPP). So, we’ll be at an even worse disadvantage. Japan is our number one customer but, there’ll be some point that that tariff divide is so large that it won’t overcome the demand,” she explained. “And China, obviously, we’re really encouraged that the Administration is at the table and they’re looking not only at the tariffs but the non-tariff barriers that keep us from having full access… all those things are important.”
More pressing issues that require immediate attention though have taken the spotlight away from trade at present with the arrival of a critical moment in the process to revamp the WOTUS rule. Right now, the public comment period is open for stakeholders to weigh in on the rulemaking process. Houston says it is vital that producers submit their comments and do their part to help overturn the overreaching original rule imposed by the Obama Administration.
“We really need to stand up for what this new rule for WOTUS can do for our operations. Sometimes we don’t take the time to do that and I’m as bad as anybody about putting things off. But, this is really important to our operations,” she said, adding that NCBA has created a simple way to help producers participate. “We’ve made it really easy, by just going to the NCBA website, it guides you through the process and doesn’t take long at all.”
In addition to those issues and the ongoing conversations pertaining to animal ID systems and livestock hauling restrictions, something else that Houston says the NCBA is monitoring is the rhetoric that has been spewing from presidential hopefuls working to build their bases. She commented on the remarks made recently by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren who has called for things that would drastically change the way the beef industry works - things like reinstating a mandatory country of origin labelling system and reverting the Beef Checkoff program to being fully voluntary.
Houston says the NCBA whole-heartedly disagrees with these proposed changes and says based on her own experiences knows the value that the Beef Checkoff brings to the table and why mandatory COOL does not work. She concluded that NCBA is prepared to stand firm if and when the industry is challenged by politicians unaware of the consequences these actions could have on beef producers.
Listen to Hays and Houston speak on how beef producers are taking these topics and more in stride by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
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