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From: David L. Wright, ICON Board of Directors
Date: March 10, 2005

LETTER TO THE EDITOR - Midland News, et al

On March 2 federal judge Richard Cebull of Montana ruled in favor of the injunction brought forth by R-Calf USA to keep the Canadian border closed. As a result there has been some criticism from a few leaders who are responsible for representing Nebraska in Washington. They seem to have forgotten who helped them achieve the status and positions which they currently enjoy.

As a rancher in Holt County, I would like to share a few observations with the citizens of Nebraska. In December of 2003 a Canadian cow in Washington State was discovered to have BSE. As a result the price of cattle fell drastictly. One month later we sold our calves and had to accept less for our years worth of work because of ONE CANADIAN cow. After the sell I added up our expense for the year and came across the sobering fact. We spent 17% of our gross income on property tax. This year the prices have rebounded; we sold our calves for the highest price in our lives. As I figured our property taxes there was more sobering news, our tax went up 6%. Even with record calf prices we still paid 14% of our gross income to property tax. That is GROSS not NET, I don't know of any other business with such a property tax burden.

The USDA has just released the cattle inventory for all cattle and calves in Canada. As of January 1, 2005 it is up 3% from January 1, 2004 and up 12% from two years ago. The Organization for Competitive Markets has reported that industry experts predict a potential decline in cattle prices of $20 per hundredweight or $240 per head if the Canadian border is opened. If this happens, I believe our rural communities will feel the pinch, not those in Washington who are pushing for this trade.

Those who are criticizing the Montana ruling like to use the term free trade. I always though that you traded your surplus for products you were in need of. If I have oranges and you have apples then I trade you some oranges for apples. If we both have apples, there is nothing to trade, or could this be called free outsourcing.

The Canadian herd has had 4 cases of BSE, their herd is about 16% of the size of the US herd yet the Canadians test at the same rate as we do. They should be testing 20 times the rate we do considering their current situation.

I would like to ask Nebraskans to take the time to call those who represent us and let them know how you feel about this.

David Wright,
Board of Directors, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska

Neligh, NE

Lee Terry (402) 397-9944

Tom Osborne (308) 381-5555

Jeff Forenberry (402) 438-1598

Chuck Hagel (402) 476- 1400

Ben Nelson (402) 441-4600