FROM: INDEPENDENT CATTLEMEN OF NEBRASKA CONTACT: Al Davis 308-282-2220
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 21, 2005
ICON Speaks Out at Husker Harvest Days
(Hyannis, NE) - Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) was well represented
at the 2007 Farm Bill Forum recently held in Grand Island. Over 200
people attended, including many farmers and ranchers who lined up to
express their concerns and opinions on the construction of the upcoming
Farm Bill to Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns and Nebraska Governor,
Among those who spoke on behalf of producers were ICON President, Chris
Abbott, from Hyannis, and Director, Jim Hanna, Brownlee. They expressed
concern over the lack of profitability on independent farm and ranch
operations, and urged USDA to consider limits on packer ownership of
cattle. They also expressed a need for reforms of unfair practices in
agricultural contracts. Also attending the meeting was ICONs Secretary,
Bob Rothwell, from Arthur County, and many ICON and R-Calf members from
across the State.
Our vision is quite simple; we intend to promote policies that
will ensure that our members have the ability to remain independent
businessmen and businesswomen in an economically and socially sustainable
environment said Hanna.
Unless we come to grips with creating a business structure in
which the sale of our farm and ranch products generates sufficient income
to pay for the land, cover the operating debt, and provide a modest
profit, we will never be able to retain young people in our communities
and on the land. And, without youth, our rural communities will continue
After waiting in a lengthy line to address Secretary Johanns, Abbott
asked that a Competition Title be drafted into the new Farm
Bill. The Competition Title is needed in order to assure that
the more concentrated segments of our industry do not unduly influence
the independent business structure that is the hallmark of our farms
and ranches. Abbott stated.
ICON firmly believes that the fate of family cattle production
businesses lies in the ability to enhance competition for its products.
Vertical integration and further concentration in agriculture will bring
with it a diminishing interest in staying on the farm from the next
generation, and will continue the decline of rural communities,
Abbott also spoke for ICON members in urging the implementation of
Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) laws which were enacted
in the 2002 farm bill but remain unenforced.
Recent free trade agreements continue to expose the domestic
live cattle industry to greater and greater threats from imports of
cattle and beef products. US producers must be given a tool to delineate
and differentiate their product from the foreign cattle supply. It is
entirely unreasonable to imagine that we can compete with foreign cattle
producers, who have access to vastly cheaper inputs, less regulation,
and/or significant government subsidies," Abbott said.
Johanns listened to farmers and ranchers for nearly three hours before
closing the forum with comments about specific concerns which had been
addressed by almost every speaker.
Support for Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) was brought to the forefront
by more than a few speakers. After saying that the law is bound to help
some but could hurt others, Johanns told of events that took place in
Japan and Taiwan after those nations banned US beef following the discovery
of a BSE case in an imported Canadian cow. With limited supplies of
US Beef, several meat markets and restaurants began advertising US
Beef and raised prices for the dwindling item.
It is said that the housewives lined up in the streets and bought
up the whole inventory from the butcher in a matter of hours. People
stood in line to eat Beef Bowls made with US Beef at restaurants. The
consumers there want our product. They love our product and will pay
whatever price to get it, Johanns said.
As it stands, COOL legislation is scheduled to go into effect in September
2006, after Congress delayed implementation from September 2004. ICON
believes that only with labeling will the American consumer be able
to differentiate product and have the choice to buy USA-produced beef,
fruits, and vegetables.
Johanns reminded the crowd that the 2007 Farm Bill would not be exempt
from budgetary cuts. Just like any other budget---whether city,
county or state---the US Department of Agriculture will have to adjust
to the enormous and accumulating deficit. It is very likely that many
programs will suffer and the WTO talks will have a serious effect on
the way we do business.
The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska is the newest and fastest growing
agricultural organization in the state and an affiliate of R-Calf USA.
The Office of the Organization is located in Hyannis, Nebraska and membership
can be obtained by calling (308)282-2826 or log on to http://www.independentcattlemen.com