Cattle producers focused on broadening international trade, improving animal health and helping the industry's economic condition at the beef industry convention last week, according to a release from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

"We had much success with our policy priorities last year, and we want to further our success in advocating for these new policies," said Lynn Cornwell, NCBA president and a cattle producer from Glasgow, Mont. "Trade, sound animal health, favorable federal lands and environmental policy, more market information and a lower tax burden all continue to be critical to the well-being and progress of our industry.”

Following are some highlights of new and reaffirmed policies:

Agriculture Policy - Cattle producers support a Federal Crop Insurance program that would substitute disaster and drought relief with crop insurance. Last year's widespread droughts that reduced available forage to cattle made it clear that a federal policy regarding forage is necessary.

Cattle Health - Members voted to support voluntary identification programs for domestic cattle. Cattle producers also favor immediate use of federal funds to eradicate brucellosis. Further, cattle producers passed policy agreeing to work with the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service to develop a strategic plan detailing the staff and budgetary needs of the agency to address existing, emerging and foreign animal diseases. Members further voted to support identifying live cattle imports by country of origin with permanent, visible identification.

Federal Lands - Concerns with the previous administration's use of executive orders to make national monument declarations have led producers to support congressional review and modification of the Antiquities Act. Further, cattle producers support urging the current administration to work toward repealing or modifying unnecessary monument designations.

After reviewing last year's disastrous wildfires, NCBA members passed policy that supports efforts among local, state and federal officials, along with landowners, to re-evaluate and improve federal land management.

Cattle marketing - NCBA called on Congress, USDA and the Department of Justice to monitor all mergers, ownership changes or other trends. NCBA also supports legislation to establish a commission or request the agriculture secretary appoint a commission to review the Packers and Stockyards Administration's study of livestock marketing, price discovery and packer concentration.

The cattle industry continues to support changes to the current marketing system that improves value discovery and maintains a free market system.

Because members are concerned about the "3/60" rule regarding mandatory price reporting, NCBA members set policy to ensure USDA makes information available consistent with congressional intent.

Members continue to support working with USDA Research Service and private industry to develop instruments that quickly measure yield, quality grades and tenderness.

Property Rights and Environmental Management - EPA will continue releasing regulations and proposed rules that will affect cattle producers. Because some of these regulations can be costly, NCBA supports federal funding and technical assistance to assist producers in complying with federal and state regulations. Members also recommended NCBA approve $150,000 in legal funds to help challenge some of EPA's environmental regulations.

Endangered species listings affect use of private lands. NCBA members want to ensure that further endangered species listings are based on sound science. Therefore, members renewed policy opposing any federal agency designating species as endangered without those species first being recognized under ESA or National Environmental Policy Act.

Members also voted to lobby in favor of a stand alone conservation bill that recognizes officials should work with and get input from landowners when taking steps to conserve and protect the environment.

Tax Relief - Although it is clear President Bush has made tax relief one of his policy priorities, cattle producers will continue to lobby for meaningful tax reforms. NCBA members reaffirmed policy to: Repeal the death tax, support capital gains reduction, improve income management tools, allow full deductibility of health insurance premiums, and repeal alternative minimum tax laws.

Beef Safety - Producing beef with minimum or no carcass damage continues to be a goal toward which cattle producers work. NCBA passed policy encouraging producers to use injectible products that cause little damage to edible tissue.

NCBA's Beef Quality Assurance Program is proving successful. Members passed policy supporting establishing a reference center on educational materials that state and local cattle groups can use as a resource.

Nutrition and Health - NCBA supports voluntary labeling of meat products to inform consumers about the nutritional value of beef. Further, members voted to work toward educating nutrition experts and the general public about USDA dietary guidelines and the role beef plays in a balanced, healthy diet.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association contributed to this report