Common Sense ESA Enforcement

NCBA Calls for Common Sense ESA Enforcement and Critical Habitat Designations

By Brian German Associate Editor


The interpretation and impact of the Endangered Species Act  (ESA) continues to be a concern for growers and ranchers. Ethan Lane, executive director for the Public Lands Council of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, is working to inject more common sense into ESA enforcement.

“We’re spending a lot of time on the ESA. It’s an issue that impacts producers all over the West, and it’s starting to creep East as species like the northern long-eared bat and wolves” are added to the list. “So we’re engaging with Congress, talking about ways to improve the act and get it back to its original intention,” Lane said.

NCBA Public Lands Council logoLane addressed the difficulty in changing anything on the ESA, “Right now, because of outside litigation pressure, the ESA and its implementation is totally focused on listing. That’s because they’re completely swamped—the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is totally swamped—responding to those listing petitions and subsequent lawsuits.”

Land, who has 18+ years of experience in natural resource and land use issues, commented that to ensure the act is appropriately enforced, “We need to transition back to a place where they can focus on listing, recovery and then delisting a species once those species have recovered. That’s going to take Congress probably getting involved and making sure to refine how those resources are spent and where the attention is placed inside the USFWS.”

Lane emphasized the importance of the ESA and the necessity to ensure it achieves its purpose. “There’s no secret, I don’t think, to anybody who pays attention to this issue,” Lane said. “The ESA is popular with the American people. I think we need to be realistic that we’re not going to be doing away with the ESA anytime soon, so we had better make sure it works for everybody.”

“The first step in doing that,” Lane explained, “is making sure that it is a fully-functioning act; because right now, it is really broken. So we’re putting our attention on solvable issues that people can get behind where we can build consensus and actually try to make some changes.”

As a result of a new rule concerning critical habit guidelines, Lane anticipates potential problems for California’s cattle industry. “There are more species than I can count that could potentially impact the cattle industry in California and beyond,” he said. “So right now, where the rubber meets the road, is in the expansion of critical habitat guidelines on behalf of USFWS. They’ve just released a new expanded rule definition on what constitutes critical habitat. This new designation includes areas that have the biological potential to support that habitat needed for a species’ survival,” he said.


2016-05-31T19:24:04-07:00May 10th, 2016|

TPP Must Pass

Kent Bacus: Congress Must Pass TPP To Help All Ag Exports


By Brian German, Associate Editor


The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has the potential to increase demand for U.S. food products among 500 million consumers in 11 Pacific Rim countries that are included in the partnership. Many of those ag products are from California, including beef.

NCBA LogoKent Bacus, director, International Trade and Market Access for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), said, “First and foremost, Congress needs to hear more from the people back home and they certainly need to hear from the business community.

Recently, we sent a letter to Capitol Hill urging a vote this year on TPP, that was signed by 225 agricultural associations and companies from all across the United States, from cows to cranberries,” stated Bacus. “We had a very diverse group of people on that letter. But, by and large, it really says, ‘It’s time to move. It’s time to stop finger-pointing. Its time to put our differences aside, and its time to move forward with TPP.’”

Kent Bacus, Director of International Trade for NCBA

Kent Bacus, Director of International Trade for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)

Bacus said passing TPP will greatly help California farmers and ranchers. “Unfortunately,” he explained, “we have a 38.5 percent tariff on our beef that goes into the Japanese market. TPP levels the playing field for us with our leading competitors for those Japanese consumers. Without that, we’re going to see our market share continue to drop in our leading export market. The benefits of this trade agreement far outweigh the status quo,” he said.

Noting opposition from both the right and the left, Bacus  stated, “Politically this is an easy target to swing at because not a lot of people understand trade. So it’s important for us to tell the positive stories of trade, and for the beef industry, it is simple: Americans aren’t willing to pay a premium for cuts like the beef tongue or short ribs, much like our Japanese consumers will,” he said.

One key component of the TPP is the reduction in tariffs and other market barriers. Failing to get the agreement passed would essentially give other nations a competitive advantage in the international market. “In 2015 we sold $1.3 billion dollars worth of beef to the Japanese,” Bacus said. “But that was down nearly $300 million dollars from 2014 because our leading competitors, the Australians, had a trade agreement that went into effect giving them a 10+ percent tariff rate advantage over us into our leading export market.”

“So unless we want to level that playing field—if we are fine with the status quo,” Bacus said—then we’re going to lose that market. And we’re going to lose a lot of the value added that the market brings back to cow-calf producers and feeders, and everyone along the production chain.”

2021-05-12T11:17:13-07:00May 6th, 2016|

California Groups Join National Effort to Reject TPP

California Farm and Rural Groups Join 160+ Organizations to Ask Congress to Reject TPP, Stand Up for Independent Farmers and Ranchers

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become a divisive issue in the nation’s capital, and criticism intensified after 161 food, farm, faith and rural organizations, including 9 from California, sent a letter to Capitol Hill yesterday, April 27, 2016–urging lawmakers to reject the trade pact.

“The main beneficiaries of the TPP are the companies that buy, process and ship raw agricultural commodities, not the farmers who face real risks from rising import competition. TPP imports will compete against U.S. farmers who are facing declining farm prices that are projected to stay low for years,” the organizations wrote. California groups including Belcampo, California Dairy Campaign, California Farmers Union, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Ecological Farming Association, Food & Water Watch, Rooted in Community, Rooted in Community Youth Food Justice Leadership Network and Roots of Change signed the letter.TPP madeInAmerica

The White House has promoted the TPP as an export-boon for farmers to generate support for the agreement, but past trade agreements have not always delivered on export promises, the letter noted. For example, the United States’ total combined exports of corn, soybeans and wheat have remained steady at about 100 million metric tons for the last 30 years despite a raft of free trade agreements since the mid-1990s.

“Trade deals do not just add new export markets – the flow of trade goes both ways – and the U.S. has committed to allowing significantly greater market access to imports under the TPP,” the groups explained. Especially “alarming” to the organizations is the agreement’s complete lack of enforceable provisions against currency manipulation, a substantial cause of America’s debilitating $531 billion trade imbalance.

California Dairy Campaign President Joe Augusto stated, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership will mean that imports from New Zealand and other countries will greatly increase, especially imports of concentrated dairy products. As more and more dairies in California go out of business, passage of the TPP will lead to a further decline in milk production across our state.”

The TPP poses particular risks for dairy farmers and cattle producers. The TPP dairy export opportunities were more modest than promised, but the TPP will likely increase imports of milk and whey protein concentrates from global dairy powerhouse New Zealand during a period of declining farmgate milk prices in the U.S. The United States imported nearly 2.3 billion pounds of beef from TPP partners but only exported about 1.2 billion pounds in 2015. The TPP will also increase beef and cattle imports while domestic cattle prices are plummeting.

California Farmers Union President Joaquin Contente stated, “Farmers in California are some of the most highly regulated in the world, and under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they will have to compete against a flood of imports that do not meet the same high standards that farmers here are required to follow. Any potential export gains can be erased at any point when our competitors devalue their currency because currency manipulation is not addressed in the TPP. The TPP also does not crack down on the value-added taxes (VAT) that our competitors can impose which make our exports uncompetitive in other markets.”

The TPP also covers important agricultural policy areas such as investment, procurement, labeling, food safety, animal health and crop disease. The stringent rules and dispute system under the TPP make it easier to successfully challenge and overturn domestic laws, as happened last year to country of origin meat labels.

“The TPP will bring a wave of fruit and vegetable imports that will inundate farmers, consumers and inspectors,” said Food & Water Watch California Director Adam Scow. “The TPP benefits the biggest agribusiness and food companies at the expense of California communities that are trying to strengthen and rebuild local, sustainable food systems.”

The letter and complete list of signers can be read here.

California Farmers Union contact: Lynne McBride, 925-385-0217,
California Dairy Campaign contact: Lynne McBride, 925-385-0217,
Food & Water Watch contact: Adam Scow,
See the California TPP website for the government’s perspective.
2021-05-12T11:17:13-07:00April 28th, 2016|

Youth in California Cattle

Youth in California Cattle

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

Statistically, it appears millennials aren’t considering agriculture as a career path. The USDA’s “2007 Census of Agriculture: Farmers by Age,” reports the average age of cattle ranchers was 57.8 years old. Malorie Bankhead, director of communications for the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and a millennial herself, said, “Young people in the beef industry have a really unique opportunity to get involved in something called the Young Cattlemen’s Committee (YCC), the young affiliate of our California Cattlemen’s Association.

Young Cattlemen’s Committee (YCC)

Young Cattlemen’s Committee (YCC)

Bankhead explained, “There are four college chapters: Fresno State, Chico State, Cal Poly and UC Davis. We don’t discourage membership from high school students or even folks younger than that who are interested in getting involved. The membership is $25 per year, and with that, you’re afforded a wealth of opportunity to become involved. We have a fairly robust scholarship program available to YCC members where we interview up-and-coming leaders in the beef industry who are focusing academically and extracurricularly on the beef industry, with the career goal to reenter the beef industry.”

Bankhead said the Young Cattlemen on the Capitol event, set for April 5, “is another opportunity for young people in the industry—specifically YCC members—to come to the CCA office in Sacramento to to learn from our staff about the current hot topics in the beef industry affecting ranchers. We turn to discussions with those folks and each other and build your network in the beef industry. We also tour the Capitol, visit some legislators and network with them on issues impacting the beef industry.” Registration information is forthcoming on the CCA website under the YCC tab.

2021-05-12T11:17:14-07:00February 15th, 2016|

EPA on Agriculture, Part 2

Ron Carleton, EPA on Agriculture, Part 2

By Laurie Greene, Editor

Editor’s note: In an exclusive interview with Ron Carleton, EPA Counselor to the Administrator for Agricultural Policy, we asked how the EPA views agriculture.

“Look, we want to work with agriculture,” said Ron Carleton, former deputy commissioner for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “We have a number of issues and challenges we face across the country with water quality and other things. The thing that we often talk about is the adoption and implementation of conservation measures and best practices, and our producers are doing that,” he noted.

“Farmers are taking those very important steps,” explained Carleton, “to help get us from here to there. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is very committed to working with agriculture, to have that dialogue, to have that discussion, to have those two-way communications. So, hopefully, we can work better together as we go forward and find those opportunities to collaborate and to partner. That is so key, and something that I strongly am committed to and strongly support.”

Ron Carlton, EPA Counselor to the Administrator for Agricultural Policy

Ron Carlton, EPA Counselor to the Administrator for Agricultural Policy

Carleton elaborated, “I absolutely believe the EPA is always willing to look for outreach opportunities to be with our producers to sit down, to have those discussion with farmers,” towards a common goal.

“We’ve worked with our pesticide folks around the state very closely to resolve any issues that might arise with pesticide issues. We want to get those tools and those products out to our producers, but to do so in a safe way, in a way that also protects the environment. So, I think it is about collaboration. It is about discussion and dialogue, and we are committed to doing more of that.”

With the EPA’s commitment to collaboration and partnership, Carleton said hopefully in the long run, we could address the many challenges that we all have—not only in agriculture—but in the environment as well.

“I’ve always said that our farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of the land,” said Carleton. “We at the EPA need to continue working with them to support them to promote those efforts as best we can.”

“Now, we are not without challenges out there—environmental challenges with water quality, for example, with nutrient pollution in some cases, and air issues in other cases. But I think that the way we lick those problems, again, is by working together promoting those voluntary efforts. We must look for and embrace those opportunities to work together, not only with our Ag stakeholders, but also with the USDA and the NRCS.

“I think we just need to continue what we are doing, engage even more farmers and ranchers,” Carleton said, “and continue to seek technological advances, not only in irrigation, but land management and water quality. I’m confident and I’m optimistic that even with the challenges we have, climate change, a doubling of the population by 2050 and all the problems these will pose, I have every confidence in the world that we are going to find solutions to these problems, and I think that our farmers and ranchers are going to lead the way.

USDA Horizontal Logo“Farmers and ranchers are innovative and always trying to do the best they can to protect their land and water; but we all can do better. I think our producers respond to change in very good ways. Look, we have gone through technological advances; we are more technically precise in using fertilizers and water,” Carleton said.

He noted, “Water is going to be an interesting issue as the population doubles and as we have more development, particularly in the Western part of the United States, which is drier. But I think our farmers and ranchers are good at responding to that change, and good at helping to develop, adopt, and implement those technical advances in a way that not only is environmentally good, but increases productivity.”

“They are doing more with less,” Carleton said, “particularly given the challenges of a growing population, not only here in this country, but around the world, the loss of productive agricultural land everyday to development and the increase in extreme weather events, including droughts, floods and the like—and California farmers know all too well the weather extremes.”

2016-05-31T19:24:12-07:00February 12th, 2016|

Cattle Industry Supports TPP

California Cattle Industry Supports TPP Trade Proposal

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

Justin Oldfield, California Cattlemen’s Association’s vice president of government relations and a cattleman in Sacramento County, expressed support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the December roundtable in Sacramento at which U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse presented.

Oldfield anticipates TPP would boost demand for U.S. farm and food products among nearly 500 million consumers in 11 countries. “TPP is largely supported not only by California’s beef industry, but across the country, largely because members of TPP represent some of the largest export markets for U.S. beef.”

“Consumers in those markets love U.S. beef,” said Oldfield, “Unfortunately, we do have some pretty high tariff rates in TPP-member countries.” Oldfield explained the U.S. has recently been at a competitive disadvantage with Australia in supplying beef to Japan. Australia, which also depends on its beef exports, has a lower tariff right now with the Japanese.

“A good percentage of that [Japanese] market has been taken away from us by the Australians,” Oldfield said. “With TPP in place, it will put us right back on a level playing field with the Australians and a reduction in tariffs in the long-term. We hope to recapture some of that market share back once TPP is done,” said Oldfield.

Oldfield hopes Congress moves quickly on TPP to make it eligible for a vote, “so that we can get back to sending high quality beef to the Pacific Rim. Every day that Congress sits on [TPP] will cost beef producers money here, and not just in California, but across the United States in terms of our market access to Japan,” he said.

2021-05-12T11:17:15-07:00January 18th, 2016|

WIFSS Animals in Disasters Courses Piloted in Sonoma

2015 WIFSS Animals in Disaster Course Series

Source: Chris Brunner; UC Davis Western Institute for Food Safety and Security


Without coordinated response, awareness and resources, those animals left behind in a natural or man-made disaster most often do not survive. The Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS) offers a series of Animals in Disasters courses that help prepare first responders and community members for animal-related emergencies.

WIFSS instructors, Tracey Stevens, deputy director, Animals in Disasters Project, and Dr. Michael Payne, dairy Ooutreach coordinator, piloted two new Department of Homeland Security Animals in Disasters courses this summer in Sonoma, California.

Class participants in “Emergency Animal Sheltering: Veterinary Considerations” learned skills and knowledge on how to establish an emergency animal shelter, and how to safely shelter and reunify animals that have been displaced during a disaster. In the “First Responder Guidelines for All Hazards Large Animal Emergency Evacuation” class, emergency personnel were provided instruction on safe approaches to emergency evacuation of large animals.

First responders, county officials, animal services personnel, veterinarians and other individuals can look forward to the 2015 WIFSS Animals in Disaster Course series which, in addition to the two courses above, will include:

  • Guidelines for Establishing an Emergency Animal Shelter: Veterinary Considerations – CE approved
  • Loose Livestock, Injured Wildlife and Humane Euthanasia of Animals for First Responders
  • First Responder Guidelines for Equine Emergencies – Level 1
  • Veterinarian Integration into Multi-Agency Emergency Equine Rescue and Disaster Response – CE approved

View WIFSS Animals in Disasters for announcements of course dates and registration information.

2021-05-12T11:17:15-07:00October 1st, 2014|
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