Over 300 cattle producers from all over the United States outlined key legislative and regulatory priorities with Congress and government agencies last week during the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's annual Washington conference.

"We had an extremely productive week, said Lynn Cornwell, a rancher from Glasgow, Mont., and NCBA president. "We outlined our priorities to ensure a positive business climate for beef producers to continue the increase in beef demand. We met with top government officials in the new Bush Administration and Congress, and were encouraged by what we heard."

Cornwell said that cattle producers urged legislators to provide more resources for animal health research and manpower to continue BSE and Foot-and-Mouth Disease prevention efforts in the United States. Cattle producers also told lawmakers that repeal of the death tax is a major priority in order to keep farms and ranches in the family from one generation to the next. Vitally important to an effective industry, and a central part of discussions last week, is the conservation title in the Farm Bill and the resources to fund it.

USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman told producers that USDA is committed to continued efforts to prevent foreign animal diseases in the United States. She outlined additional resources that the federal government has re-directed to increase security efforts at airports; hire additional inspectors and better coordinate action and communication of state veterinarians. She added that opening new markets for U.S. agricultural goods is also a top priority.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Governor Christine Todd Whitman, told the group that the federal government should set environmental standards, but the states should have flexibility in how to meet them. Whitman said state governments are in the best position to know the unique character of their states and what works best for their climate and geography. Whitman also praised NCBA for its Environmental Stewardship Awards program and referred to cattle producers as the original stewards of the land.

USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service reported on the new 3/60 rule, a price reporting measure that took effect on April 2. AMS said that it continues to seek price reporting methods that protect confidentiality and provide accurate effective reporting. These methods may or may not be within the confines of the 3/60 rule.

Attendees at NCBA 2001 Spring Conference urged science-based situation specific policy from Washington, D.C. NCBA members were encouraged by an apparent commitment from the government to this goal.

"The success of this conference is a reflection of how effective communication is," said Lynn Cornwell, "Making the voice of cattle producers heard in Washington, D.C. is the best way to achieve the industry's legislative and regulatory goals."

National Cattlemen's Beef Association