NCBA Pres. Kevin Kester Talks Trade, Fake Meat, Beef Demand and More with Ron Hays in DenverFri, 03 Aug 2018 12:07:34 CDT
California beef producer and President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Kevin Kester has logged a lot of miles since first coming into his leadership role with the organization, during which time he has had the chance to speak with a lot of producers from across the country. At the 2018 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting in Denver this week, he shared some of those experiences with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, there on location covering the event. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page. According to Kester, there are five things that currently weighing on the minds of producers everywhere.
“Of course, No. 1 is trade and the tariffs right now. Secondly, the Farm Bill and how we’re going to come out with some of our conservation programs like EQIP and the vaccine bank for Foot & Mouth Disease. The third thing is the ELD Mandate - how that will affect them. The fourth is fake meat, an issue that’s come out of nowhere in the last ten months or so… and then the industry is looking ahead, wanting to know where we’re going to land on traceability,” he said. “On policy topics and regulatory things, those are the things everybody is thinking about right now.”
As Kester mentioned, the most immediate issue right now that has a direct impact on the livelihood of cattlemen is trade. Addressing that top priority, Kester says that naturally whenever there is uncertainty in the marketplace, there is cause for concern. However, he believes in this instance the President “in his heart and in his mind,” is fighting for the right things that will put Americans on equal footing with other nations as we work to build our international trade relationships.
“We support him on that,” he said. “But, what we do ask is let’s try to get through this as quickly as possible so we only have to suffer the least amount of pain as possible.”
Another concern that has risen to the top of the national discussion in recent weeks, is the question of ‘fake meat,’ lab-grown protein derived from animals, and where jurisdiction lies in regard to the product’s oversight by a regulatory authority. This has been a headlining story lately, but Kester says based on remarks from USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach, the media has actually exaggerated the turf war going on between the Food & Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture over their claims on ‘fake meat.’ Nonetheless, Kester insists the NCBA is backing the USDA in this matter in order to ensure that ‘fake meat’ products are held to the same standards as traditional meat products when it comes to marketing and labeling claims as well as food safety inspection protocols.
But, perhaps one of the two most important tasks Kester has on his plate is his work with the Federation of State Beef Councils to help build consumer demand for beef both here at home and abroad.
“I can’t overstate how important it is. Poll after poll indicates that 70 percent or more of producers support Checkoff efforts,” he said. “We have to make sure that our state beef councils as well as the Cattlemen’s Beef Board uses our hard-earned beef promotion dollars wisely and that we leverage those dollars. Because, it’s obvious from study after study - that promotional effort does have an effect on domestic consumption.”
The other most important task - fostering the next generation of leadership in the industry. It is a challenge Kester says he made a priority coming into office. And, based on his travels, he happily reports he has taken notice that more and more younger people are attending meetings locally and nationally.
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