A Policy Division forum at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference offered a glimpse into the long list of issues facing the beef industry. NCBA staff and officers outlined these key issues while encouraging producers to engage their neighbors and representatives in Washington D.C. to protect the industry‘s interests.
 
Food safety
The Food Safety Act of 2009 drastically overhauls the FDA’s role in food safety by granting them more resources and regulatory authority. NCBA raised concerns about several provisions in the bill that would grant FDA on-farm inspections, access to records and create duplicative authorities for facilities currently regulated by the USDA.
 
Animal ID
While USDA is holding hearings to determine the level of support for mandatory animal ID, NCBA supports a voluntary program and encourages producers to participate in the national Animal Identification System for animal-health purposes. Sentiment at USDA listening sessions had been overwhelmingly negative toward NAIS, but support in Congress will keep mandatory ID on the table. NCBA is working with Congress to be sure they understand that animal ID is not a food-safety tool -- it is merely a tool to respond to animal-health emergencies.
 
Antibiotics
Congress is considering the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which would phase out the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in animals. NCBA is actively opposing the legislation, with a concerted lobbying and advertising campaign, stressing that judicious use of antibiotics is a necessary and important tool to prevent, control and treat disease in animals.
 
Climate change
Congress is working to pass cap-and-trade legislation that would set a strict cap on allowable greenhouse gas emissions from certain facilities and enable regulated entities to purchase offsets to ease compliance. NCBA worked to assure the legislation passed by the House included three key provisions. Ag is exempted from regulation under the cap, USDA will regulate ag offsets, rather than EPA and the bill contains a specific list of agricultural project types that are eligible for creating offsets. NCBA remains opposed to the bill, though, because it will raise energy and operating costs for producers, and the organization plans to work to improve it as the Senate considers climate-change this fall.
 
Death Tax
Currently, estates valued at more than $3.5 million, or $7 million for a couple, are taxed at a 45 percent rate. If Congress doesn’t act to freeze or reduce the estate tax, in 20011 it will revert to a 55 percent tax on estates worth just $1 million or more.
 
Clean Water Restoration Act
Currently, waters under the jurisdiction of the federal Clean Water Act are defined as “Navigable waters of the United States.” Other waters are subject to regulation by individual states. The Clean Water Restoration Act would remove the word “navigable” from the definition and expand federal regulatory authority over all wet areas. NCBA adamantly opposes the bill, and continues to work to defeat it.