FROM: INDEPENDENT CATTLEMEN OF NEBRASKA, 66455 Ponderosa Rd. , Hyannis, NE 69350
For more information, contact ICON President - Jim Dinklage: 402-340-6791 ICON Director - Al Davis: 308-458-9948 Communications Director - Maureen Cain: 308-880-1505
March 14, 2019
The importance of the Mother Cow – the base of Nebraska’s entire beef industry -- was stressed by the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska on March 5 at the Governor’s Ag conference in Kearney.
ICON Addresses Governor at Ag Leaders Conference
The cow is the “core of the engine that powers the state’s economy,” ICON Director Dr. Don Cain, Jr. said. “The cow is fundamental to the well-being of Nebraska – and contributes in some way to the financial health of every Nebraskan.”
But the cow, and those who take care of her, are not healthy, Cain said. They are having an economic crisis because of high property taxes.
Property taxes in Nebraska are higher than the cost of labor to keep a cowherd. The cow receives no direct US government subsidies, but she is saddled with the burden of paying more property taxes in Nebraska than any other state in the USA. Because of that, Nebraska’s cow herd has dropped in numbers, while South Dakota cow numbers have increased by 8%.
Cain urged Gov. Pete Ricketts to reduce the high property tax burden. If there is no tax relief, Cain warned that every community will be negatively affected, as vital as the beef industry is to Nebraska’s economy. Without the cow, Cain said, “there is no beef industry, unless you grow it all in a lab -- and that’s not beef.”
Another problem noted was the repeal of the Country of Origin Labeling law. COOL forced meat sellers to label where their products came from. Without COOL, packaging companies are making products that are falsely labeled as domestic. This has caused the cow to be cheated out of revenue, and it has hurt the great reputation that beef produced in Nebraska deserves.
Getting tax relief and a restored system of mandatory labeling will help the cow be healthy again and the whole state will see economic benefits, Cain said.
Dr. Don Cain is a 5th generation cow-calf producer and a practicing veterinarian of 35 years. He lives in Broken Bow. The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) represents, promotes, and protects the interests of the state’s independent cattle producers and feeders.
Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) have spent a busy month making Nebraska livestock producers aware of two brand bills the group is supporting. President Dave Wright visited several livestock barns on market days to talk to livestock producers about LB654 and LB 647, both submitted by District 43 State Senator Al Davis.
LB654 has been introduced to change the brand area in Nebraska to include the complete state. As it stands now, the eastern third of the state is not in the brand inspection area. LB647 is designed to go hand in hand with the brand inspection act and make changes to Nebraska’s cattle importation act.
Livestock producers were encouraged to head to Lincoln on Tuesday, Feb. 19, for the hearing on the two proposed bills. The hearing room was indeed full of cowboys and others who offered several perspectives in their testimony supporting the bills including Jay Rempe with NE Farm Bureau; John Hanson, NE Farmers Union; David Wright, ICON; Richard Schrunk and Koinzan – owners of livestock markets; and livestock producers Chris Abbott and Doug Ferguson.
"The quality of the testimony was exceptional and demonstrated to the committee why one law should apply to the entire state,” Davis said. “When the brand area was established in the l940s cattle were all moved from central points of collection and only traveled on railcars to their destination.”
Davis said with the advent of trucking as the means of transportation the job of policing cattle theft is much more complicated. It is extremely easy to remove animals from the brand area on one day and sell them in the non-brand area the following day before the rancher in the brand area even knows they are gone. The fees associated with brand inspection are well-worth the expenditures required for inspection.
Additionally, residents west of the brand line are held to a different standard when paying the beef checkoff, since it is collected by brand inspectors west of the line. East of the line, the collection of country sales is purely based on the honor system. Instituting an all-state brand inspection area and inspection program would solve all these problems.
“Finally if you read the statute you will find that the animals do not have to be branded--there just needs to be some way for an inspector to identify that the cattle belong to a specific individual,” Davis said. The hearing attracted about 60 interested Nebraskans.