WASHINGTON – Members of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) met with officials at the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) office to urge the administration to immediately send the pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea to Congress for ratification.

“The Texas beef industry has undergone an unprecedented year of bad weather including record-setting droughts and devastating wildfires,” said Joe Parker Jr., rancher and TSCRA president. “One sure way to help the industry recover is to pass these trade agreements. Doing so will allow American products to finally gain ground in markets where our competitors have been capitalizing. These agreements will also create thousands of jobs that Americans desperately need without costing taxpayers a single dime.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for every $1 billion worth of agricultural goods exported, approximately 8,000 jobs are created. According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the 3 pending agreements would generate nearly $2.5 billion in additional exports and about 20,000 jobs.

TSCRA also supports the re-authorization of the trade promotion authority, a fast-track approach that gives USTR more flexibility to negotiate trade deals.

While in Washington, TSCRA members also met with members of the Texas delegation as well as senators from Oklahoma and Kansas. The group stressed the importance of reining unnecessary and overreaching EPA regulations.

TSCRA is also working to waive the requirement that, in order to be eligible for USDA’s fence rebuilding cost share assistance, fences must be less than 20 years old. TSCRA talked to officials about waiving the requirement so that in times of natural disasters, fences of all ages will qualify.  

TSCRA is working to change the federal tax code to allow costs of replacing fences destroyed in natural disasters to be fully tax deductible in the year the costs are incurred, rather than deducting the costs over a period of years.

“More than 3 million acres of Texas lands have burned,” said Parker. “Cattle raisers have lost over 5,800 miles of fences which equals more than $50 million dollars in rebuilding costs.”

Other issues of concern include U.S. corn-based ethanol policies that continue to increase feed costs for livestock producers, and the listing of many endangered species, including the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, in Texas without sufficient data to verify a listing.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is a 134-year-old trade organization. As the largest and oldest livestock association in Texas, TSCRA represents more than 15,000 beef cattle producers, ranching families and businesses who manage approximately 4 million head of cattle on 79.5 million acres of range and pasture land, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma. TSCRA provides law enforcement and livestock inspection services, legislative and regulatory advocacy, industry news and information, insurance services and educational opportunities for its members and the industry.