R-CALF USA just completed its 14th annual convention in Pierre. The leadership and the membership accepted the challenge to support USDA in the effort to keep country of origin labeling (COOL).
This enacted law is being challenged by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Mexican Cattlemen's Association, the American Meat Institute (packers), National Pork Producers Council and Iowa Pork Producers.
R-CALF USA and many independent producer organizations and consumer groups are lining up in a strong effort to keep COOL. Those involved believe that everyone has a right to know where there food comes from.
The guest speaker was Brian O'Shaughnessy, Rome, N.Y., the chairman of Revere Copper Products, a company founded in 1801 by Paul Revere that might be the oldest manufacturing company in the United States. O'Shaughnessy is a recognized expert on international trade.
He had just returned from a trip to Ireland and showed a copy of a restaurant menu and on the bottom in bold print was We only serve 100% Ireland beef and produce. When the restaurant owner was asked how this is possible, he replied that Ireland's imports laws and regulations are so strict that no country can export into Ireland.
O'Shaughnessy explained how foreign countries manipulate currency and impose tariffs where the U.S. exports are actually paying for that country's economic development through tariffs. The U.S. only imposes about a two percent tariff on foreign products where the foreign countries impose about a 15 percent tariff on U.S. exports.
O'Shaughnessy, being an active adventurous person, showed slides of his trip from Chile crossing into Argentina over the Andes Mountains on a motorcycle, with never less than one-half tank of gas.
Roger McEowen, director of the Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, gave an in-depth presentation via a video conference on new tax laws and recommended that family farmers and ranchers check into the manager/non-manager system of a joint tax filing system. This will require more book work but could save the payer some money.
A question yet to be answered by the courts is if CRP payments are rent income and whether operating land owners and outside land investors who have land enrolled in the CRP are subject to the same level of taxation.
Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA, emphasized the need for the cattle industry to get involved now. He said this country has lost the independent poultry producer, the independent pork producer, with the sheep industry facing its biggest challenge, as U.S. lamb and mutton consumption increases and U.S. producer prices have dropped in the past two years as imports increase.
The U.S. cattle industry will lose its independent production status when information as to what the real market is and public posted price values are no longer available to independent sellers, Bullard said.
The Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center seemed to be an evening highlight for everyone present as R-CALF USA presented a saddle in Johnnie Smith's memory with an enjoyable prime dinner hosted by cook Brian Hanson, co-owner of Fort Pierre Livestock and potentially soon to be President of R-CALF USA. Smith was a co-founder of R-CALF USA.
As the writer of this story and emcee for the national convention, I cannot believe that producers don't come forth in droves to protect this important independent industry. There are many young people who want the legacy of competitive production marketing protected why wouldn't one want to help?