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Gebhart Previews 2015 Cattle Industry Convention, Policy Challenges

Mon, 02 Feb 2015 17:45:50 CST

Gebhart Previews 2015 Cattle Industry Convention, Policy Challenges
The 2015 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show gets underway this week. The 117th Annual Convention will be held in San Antonio, Texas. The event kicks off with Cattlemen’s College workshops on Tuesday, February 3. The convention continues through Saturday. One of those attending will be Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association President Richard Gebhart, who also serves as the NCBA Treasurer. He is looking forward to touring the trade show and see all the new products and technology being made available to producers. Gebhart said this will be one of the largest trade shows held at the Cattle Industry Convention. Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Gebhart. Click on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to the full interview.


The national beef checkoff will be one of the major topics of discussion at the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention. This is also an opportunity for the checkoff committees to present to cattlemen on how their checkoff dollars are being spent on research, education and promotion of beef. Cattlemen will be discussing an increase in the federal checkoff assessment rate. The checkoff assessment rate was established through the 1985 Farm Bill at $1 per head and remains at that rate today. The Beef Checkoff Working Group recently released a draft "Memorandum of Understanding" to increase the assessment to $2 per head.   Gebhart said this will be presented to NCBA members at convention.


"I'm really excited about this, I think this will be a threshold event in this effort," Gebhart said.


For the federal beef checkoff assessment to be increased, representatives from the 11 members of the Beef Checkoff Working Group will have to reach an agreement and then ultimately the change in federal policy will be voted on by Congress. If passed, Gebhart said producers will vote through a referendum, just like the 1985 Act.


"This is an opportunity for cattlemen to decide how they want their program to look," Gebhart said.


Increasing the checkoff rate was priority during the 2014 Oklahoma Legislative Session, as OCA looked at establishing a state beef checkoff. Gebhart said this came from the frustration with slow nature of changing legislation at the federal level. In visiting with the state's beef producers, he said there is still interest in a state checkoff. There are pros and cons of both sides, but Gebhart said the bottom line remains the same.


"I think it is imperative that we get more resources into the checkoff program, regardless if its a state or federal program," Gebhart said.


A year ago, one of the major challenge facing agriculture was the 'Waters of the US' proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency. The public comment period ended in November, so now the EPA is reviewing millions of comments. Gebhart said they are now waiting to see what EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy does next with the proposal and the interpretive rule. He is glad to see Senator Jim Inhofe serving as Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which brings optimism this proposal will be stopped.


"I think Senator Inhofe will do us a great favor and put great pressure on the Administration to not publish this rule," Gebhart said.


Another area of concern a increasing number of Endangered Species and at-risk species being protected by the Endangered Species Act. Gebhart said many parties will petition for animal protection and he believes this is the next big battleground for agriculture.


In the interview, Hays and Gebhart also discuss the nation's nutritional guidelines and other regulatory challenges that cattlemen need to aware of.

   
   

Ron Hays interview Richard Gebhart, OCA President
right-click to download mp3

 

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