OK Beef Industry Leaders Working Hard to Move Needle on Chief Policies Both at Home and in DCThu, 04 Apr 2019 19:10:34 CDT
Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association is in Washington, DC this week, leading a delegation of OCA members during the annual beef industry fly-in during which producers across the nation come to speak with policymakers about the most pressing issues pertaining to their industry. He took time Thursday to visit over the phone from DC with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn about their trip this week in our nation's capital and to discuss the progress of the 2019 Oklahoma Legislative Session as well. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
This week, Kelsey and the members of the OCA delegation have had the chance to meet with Oklahoma's Congressional leaders as well as legislators from other states about trending industry topics. Kelsey says Congressman Markwayne Mullin was actually instrumental in arranging for the OCA delegation to meet with policy leaders from states that do not have a significant rural demographic. Kelsey says a highlight of these meetings included a face to face visit with Democratic Congressman Thomas Suozzi of New York, during which they were able to have a productive conversation and helped educate him on the challenges facing the beef industry.
"In fact, the Congressman, as we were leaving, he was like 'man I don't know how you guys do your business with all these regulations-' and we said that is exactly the challenge we have," Kelsey recounted, remarking on his impression of the meeting. "So, we think we were able to at least educate them. Hopefully they will at least reach out to some of their fellow colleagues at hit some of these issues."
Trade was widely discussed in each of their meetings this week, as were other issues like the revision of the Waters of the US rule, the Hours of Service rule and the implementation of the new Farm Bill. Specifically, Kelsey says they urged lawmakers this week to ratify the USMCA. In talking with some Democratic legislators, reasons were discussed as to why the House is hesitant to move on the USMCA. One politician explained that they were waiting for Mexico to act on the agreement before they were willing to do so. Another cited labor issues as one hang up. This was discussed with Mexico's Ambassador who Kelsey indicated was very upfront about Mexico's efforts currently to reform their labor laws in order to make headway on the agreement.
Kelsey says once the USMCA is finalized, striking a bilateral agreement with Japan becomes the priority. In an effort to promote that idea, the OCA took it upon itself to reach out the Japanese Embassy in hopes of meeting with them during the visit. Kelsey says they were surprised when the Embassy returned their call, inviting them to dinner Thursday evening. He hopes to strengthen relations during this event and answer any questions about US beef production they might have.
In addition to this trip, Kelsey also offered a brief update on the Oklahoma Legislative Session. Over the last several days, Kelsey says movement has been made on several of the bills they have been watching. For instance, the legislation exempting water rights from land seized through eminent domain was passed off the Senate Judiciary Committee since our last conversation with Kelsey. That bill will be considered on the Senate Floor next week. This week, the bill restricting cell-based meat from being labelled as beef came off the House Ag Committee and now awaits consideration in the full House. Also, a bill exempting certain livestock haulers from required registration with the Dept. of Transportation is still being worked on while the State Steak bill, which would designate the ribeye as Oklahoma's official steak, went off the House Tourism Committee and is headed for the House Floor this coming week as well.
"So, a lot of positive work we continue to do at home that we feel will benefit beef producers in the beef industry in Oklahoma," he said. "We'll continue to work hard and keep you up to date on those."
In the meantime, Kelsey says his staff at the OCA is working to pull together Beef Day at the State Capitol, scheduled for May 15th. Kelsey says this event will be the perfect opportunity to highlight Oklahoma's beef industry and the contributions it has made to the state and its economy.
Listen to Kelsey talk more about these issues and others being discussed here in Oklahoma and in Washington, DC, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
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