FROM: INDEPENDENT CATTLEMEN OF NEBRASKA, Box 241, Hyannis, NE 69350
Media Contact: Mary Mulligan (402) 967-3464; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 22, 2006
ICON TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE AG COMMITTEE
(Grand Island, NE) Independent Cattlemen Board member Jim Hanna provided
testimony to the Senate Ag Committee regarding the upcoming 2007 Farm
Bill at a hearing held in Grand Island last week. The hearing was conducted
by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Chairman of the Committee, and Senators
Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Ben Nelson (D-NE).
It was a tremendous honor to be selected to participate,
said Hanna. The fact that we were included on the panel shows
how far ICON has come in a short time. We have been recognized as an
important voice in State and National issues and our members can be
assured they are now being heard.
Hanna commented that government subsidization, rural development, and
the like, are secondary to the more pressing problem of the lack of
profitability in agriculture today. Until a business climate is
created in which enough income is generated to pay for land, cover the
operating debt and overhead, as well as provide a modest profit, young
people will never be attracted back to the land, and rural communities
will continue to decline, he said.
U.S. consumers have access to the safest, most diverse, and inexpensive
food supply in the world; however, they must understand that the cost
to produce it is constantly on the rise, Hanna said. While
it is true that cattle have reached new, but certainly not unreasonable,
price levels, it should be noted that cattle producers are receiving
an ever-smaller share of each dollar generated by the retail sale of
Hannas testimony outlined several critical items that must be
included in the 2007 Farm Bill. A comprehensive Competition Title
must be drafted 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 ranching and farming economy, he said.
According to Hanna, this Title, at a minimum, should address topics
Limiting a meat packers ability to own and control cattle in
excess of 14 days prior to slaughter
Prohibiting discriminatory pricing, and enacting reforms that would
end unfair practices in agricultural contracts
Reauthorizing the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting bill, including
Provisions proposed by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Tom Harkin,
Retaining and funding Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (M-COOL)
Hanna suggested several alternative and less-expensive methods to implement
M-COOL. Implementation costs can be lowered if processors can
distinguish U.S. and foreign cattle entering into production lines,
Hanna explained. Currently, all cattle from Canada and Mexico
are marked for health and safety reasons. Allowing packers to rely on
these markings will greatly lower the cost of COOL.
Hanna explained, The consumer currently has no way to differentiate
between US and imported beef products. We believe that, given the choice,
the consumer will be willing to pay a higher price for US beef.
Commenting on forward contracting, Hanna said it is important that
the rules be written so that those contracts are handled in a fair manner
so that certain entities in the business are not using their leverage
to force producers into contracts that are not good for the producers
As it now stands, four companies in the beef-packing industry
control over 80 percent of that production, Hanna continued. Economists
will tell you that when you have a four-firm concentration of over 40
percent, you need to start scrutinizing those industries very carefully.
With the kind of leverage and power theyre holding over
the rest of the industry, its critical to the survival of independent
small farms and ranches in Nebraska that we make sure were being
dealt with fairly, he added. All transactions must be open
and available to all producers.
INDEPENDENT CATTLEMEN OF NEBRASKA
"Solid as a windmill. Always working for the independent producer."