How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the first bestselling self-help books ever published. Written by Dale Carnegie and first published in 1936, it has sold 15 million copies world-wide. Here’s a safe bet: neither Bill Bullard nor anyone else at R-CALF is among those 15 million who bought the book.
Frustrated with their ongoing negotiations with the USDA over the proposed APHIS rule titled “Bovine spongiform encephalopathy – Importation of bovines and bovine products,” R-CALF made a fourth request asking for a second extension of the comment period originally scheduled to end on May 21. Secretary Vilsack granted their first request and gave them until June 14. Unable to respond by that date, R-CALF wanted more time to review the rule’s details.
Evidently, Mr. Vilsack and friends thought enough time had transpired and demurred.
Mr. Bullard was not pleased. He fired off a nastygram that should have been printed on asbestos if that stuff was still legal. He started the letter with “In my rushed efforts to provide thoughtful and well-reasoned comments to what is the most bizarre and obfuscated rulemaking I have witnessed in over a decade…”
Here is a little taste - “The most plausible explanation for your refusal is that you do not want to give the public sufficient time to discover the dishonest and corrupt nature of your Proposed Rule. Your agency is wholly lacking in accountability, credibility and integrity. It is impossible for the public interest to even be considered, let alone protected, by an agency that resorts to outright lies in order to further its own political agenda.”
I’m sure that little kiss on the cheek caused Mr. Vilsack to take a step back and say, “Why sure, we would be delighted to give you as much time as you need. I’ll wait right here until I hear from you. No rush, no problem.”
Or maybe he thought an extra 24 days should have been more than enough to craft a well-written objection to the proposed rule. Whatever Vilsack was thinking, Bullard’s note was intemperate and probably pushed R-CALF far away from the negotiating table. I’m guessing the R-CALF seat is now in the hallway next to the room where the USDA keeps their office cleaning supplies.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Bill and I think his organization has some important things to say about how the cattle business and the federal government should work together. R-CALF represents a large and influential constituency and their voice needs to be heard, loud and clear; not as a faint echo from way out in left field.
But I’m confident Bullard and R-CALF are fully capable of raising their voices so they can still be heard from wherever the shouting comes from. I’m also confident that when the shouting becomes that intense, the listening goes away.
Chuck Jolley is a free lance writer, based in Kansas City, who covers a wide range of ag industry topics for Vance Publishing.