State of the Beef Industry is 'Sound'

Nearly 300 cattle producers are in Washington D.C. communicating to their representatives on Capitol Hill what issues are key this year. Jacqui Fatka

Published on: Apr 1, 2004

Nearly 300 cattle producers are in Washington D.C. communicating to their representatives on Capitol Hill what issues are key this year, stressing future steps needed to address bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and repealing the death tax.

The event is part of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's (NCBA) annual spring conference held today and tomorrow. Not only are producers meeting with representatives from their states, but they are also meeting with every regulatory agency spanning from the White House to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

NCBA President Jan Lyons explains this is the most important meeting of the year for producers, providing an opportunity for producers to dialogue with the people making decisions. She told reporters in a media briefing from the conference that although the organization is dealing with a multitude of issues, producers are focusing on educating policymakers about the different animal identification initiatives currently being explored in both the House and the Senate. Another main concern is the permanent repeal of the death tax, she says.

Despite recent weathering of the BSE storm, Lyons says the "state of the beef industry is very sound and is in good condition." She adds that profitability is being seen in many segments. "Some of this is a result of economics, but there are challenges facing us. In addition, I do believe we have good policies in place."

NCBA staff and officers also shared insight on future trade actions being pursued to normalize beef trade. NCBA CEO Terry Stokes says it is hard to speculate a timeframe of when borders would be reopened, but the most important thing is to continue to rely on science, not perception.

Taiwan has expressed some interest in reopening borders. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Chandler Keys says NCBA is pushing the Bush administration to not just focus on Japan. "You can't rely on Japan being the lynchpin for Asia. There may be something smaller that can trip the caulk later on," he says.

The group also expressed support of reopening beef trading borders with Canada. And said that allowing Japanese and European Union beef into the U.S. may be a necessary step to normalize beef trade worldwide.