NCBA personnel details win for 2021 | Livestock
Before the end of 2021, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association staff members hosted a call to discuss some of the year’s wins and look ahead to 2022.
Ethan Lane, NCBA vice president of government affairs, said the slower times ahead of Christmas and the New Year holidays allowed him to reflect on the year and what the group has accomplished for 2021.
“We really had to focus this year on increasing profitable opportunities for producers throughout the supply chain,” Lane said. “And what we’ve done is really connect all of those policy priorities to that central goal by looking at the opportunities and the challenges that the industry is facing in this new administration.”
In the first year of the Biden administration, Lane and others at the NCBA were pleased with some of the progress that had been made. First with the Build Back Better initiative and some of the aggressive spending plans that were put forward in January 2021. NCBA worked to educate members and consumers across the country about the “very real threat of including” payments” in the multi-trillion dollar spending package that could have a negative effect on cattle producers across the country.
The NCBA has worked to focus on elements of these initiatives, such as the strengthened foundation for transitioning farm operations from one generation to the next, accelerating the tax cap on death or Dramatic increase in tools such as capital gains tax into the 40% range.
“All of them could have had a disastrous impact on cattlemen,” Lane said. “Just at a time when, as an industry, we are either transitioning or planning to transition approximately 40% of our operations to next-gen over the next 15 years.”
This effort resulted in one of the largest grassroots campaigns ever launched by the beef industry.
“I’m really proud of the work that NCBA has done leading this charge in Washington DC, not just for the beef industry, not just for agriculture, but really for small business owners across the economy,” Lane said.
It’s a message that NCBA thinks has resonated and Lane thinks those on Capitol Hill have heard the concerns.
“They’ve heard from our producers and they’ve managed to craft bills, whether or not they survive on their own, that don’t include onerous ‘pays’ in rural America and the beef industry in particular. “, did he declare. “We are proud of the effort that has been undertaken, of the hundreds of groups that have supported the beef industry that have supported the NCBA and that have pushed back against those on these proposals and we are going to have to continue to focus on 2022.”
Another area of focus for 2021 was sustainability and climate, Lane said. The NCBA released its sustainability goals and showed how beef production can be climate neutral as an industry by 2040.
And looking at all of the climate and sustainability conversation in Washington, Lane is extremely pleased with the dramatic difference in how grazing and beef production is viewed in the capital compared to 10 years ago.
“Whereas in the past we’ve always been seen as a threat or an impact,” Lane said. “We’re now being embraced as a climate solution, which is legit and really the right place for this industry, given the good work we’ve put on the ground – the conservation edge we’re providing.”
The retail sector has been another priority for the NCBA in 2021, especially after the pandemic-related events of 2020 and the Holcomb, Kansas plant fire in 2019. There is finally had a bit of a slack in the supply chain in the fall of 2021. They’ve continued a strong dialogue with the Biden administration on issues such as packaging capacity.
“We continue to reiterate this message to the administration that we need to diversify, regionalize this packaging capacity,” he said. “We need to make sure we look for opportunities to build new packaging capacity in underserved areas.”
Lane hopes the new packaging capacity will allow producers more opportunities to generate greater value for their product.
“(And get) more of that beef dollar back on the ranch rather than further down the supply chain,” he said. “We have huge demand at the moment, both domestically and internationally.”
NCBA also continues to focus on things like price discovery. Many producers are doing the legwork themselves to find ways to market more of their livestock through negotiated means.
“It’s part of that effort to make sure we have the price discovery we need in this market,” he said. “We know it’s not sustainable in the long term. And we’re going to have to find options to make sure producers first have the ability to choose the best way to market their cattle rather than a government mandate telling them how to market their cattle.
Cattlemen need to be able to choose the best option for them, and for Lane, that means making sure there’s a healthy and robust price discovery going on.
Additionally, trade in 2021 has been spectacular for U.S. beef, with exports exceeding $10 billion to overseas markets.
“The growth we’ve seen in these markets has been absolutely incredible over the past two years,” he said. “If we had held this call two or three years ago, China wouldn’t even have been a talking point – it’s now a billion-dollar market for American beef and it continues to grow. “
More recently, NCBA leaders have had ongoing conversations with the US Department of Agriculture regarding funds set aside in various programs. They hope their suggestions for how best to spend the money take into account drought conditions in many parts of the country, as well as wildfires and severe weather. Allison Rivera, executive director of government affairs at the NCBA, said a few weeks later that the NCBA asked the USDA to include feeding flexibilities in the ELAP, or Emergency Livestock Assistance, program. honey bees and farmed fish.
When it comes to transportation, there have been some wins in 2021, according to Rivera.
“Not just getting a transportation infrastructure bill, which I think was a feat in itself,” she said. “Passing such a large package was a multi-year effort.”
Enshrining flexibility in hours of service into law was a big win for the beef industry
“And now we have to work to make sure it gets implemented,” she said. “Right now we are obviously sitting under an hours of service exemption due to the declaration of emergency. It has just been extended until February 28, 2022.”
For more information on NCBA and its policies and work tours www.boeuf.org.