Monday, January 25, 2016

Cattlemen's Guide to the Caucuses

The First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses are only a week away!
(Find your caucus location here.)

While the Iowa Cattlemen's Association has not endorsed any candidates in the presidential race, we have been following it closely. There are several hot issues that could affect the beef business in Iowa.

Curious where the candidates stand? ICA intern Mathias Peters researched the stance of each candidate on 4 big issues: EPA's Waters of the US rule (WOTUS), the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Estate Tax and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Check out the candidates' views on these issues in the lastest issue of the Iowa Cattleman magazine. 

Here are some thoughts you might use as you prep for engagement, influence and eventually a vote:

1. Identify the topics of importance to you, your family and your livelihood.

From our membership’s perspective there are several topics that routinely come up in conversations across the state.  In addition to the standard tax relief needs of our industry other topics drill down toward the sustainability of our industry.

      i. Foreign trade is a priority and Iowa benefits from foreign trade agreements to the tune of $9 billion each year.  In 2015, nearly $292 worth of gross value per fed steer came from the export market.  Regardless of the size of your operation or the sector, the foreign trade value applies to your operation. Free trade agreements level the playing field regardless of world economic factors.

     ii. An alternative to the Conservation Reserve Program that provides a Working Lands component is a very important topic for many of our members across the state.  A “set-aside” program that pairs grazing livestock with conservation and will ultimately do a much better job of preventing the land use competition that is currently experienced with producers renting both pasture and crop ground.  This topic too will likely address the candidate’s perspective on farm subsidies.

    iii. The candidate’s view on regulatory burden is very important.  Whether it’s the process the EPA worked through to implement a new rule or other agencies alignment with outside interests, regulatory burden continually causes challenges to how practices are adapted and their efficacy.
2. Engage your voice – it’s the only way to help the candidate understand our industry and get others thinking and involved.

     Step one: Be bold and ask the questions…at the town hall, on the phone and via email.
     Step two: If the answer isn’t clear, ask more specifically.
     Step three: Share your experiences and interests with others.
     Step four: Support the candidate you feel most qualified and important.
     Final step: Get everyone you know and more out to vote.

3. Take time, show up and vote – and make sure those in your family and community do, too.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Who's with us on WOTUS?

Cattle production is hard enough without the Environmental Protection Agency's meddling. But their Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule, makes it even more complicated.

The WOTUS rule was supposed to clarify the definition of WOTUS, but instead, it has caused confusion. The new definition seems to expand EPA's reach to nearly all waters across the country with no bounds.

The Government Accountability Office is currently reviewing EPA's tactics to promote the rule, including social media campaigns that may be considered "covert propaganda" to drum up support for the rule.

Iowa has been fortunate to have several high level officials standing up in opposition to the WOTUS rule.

  • Senator Ernst’s resolution of disapproval (S.J. Res. 22) to put an end to the expanded definition of the WOTUS rule passed the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support. Senator Ernst has been very vocal and active in her work to stop WOTUS, saying that the resolution was “a major win for our hardworking farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small business who are continuously ignored by the EPA.” Senator Grassley also voted to support the resolution. 
  • Governor Branstad showed his support for Iowa farmers yesterday when he joined a lawsuit filed by 13 other states challenging WOTUS.  “The WOTUS rule is a federal overreach that imposes significant barriers and impairs Iowa’s ability to advance innovative, water quality practices that would actually advance our common goal of water quality,” Branstad said. “I ran for governor in 2010 to return predictability and stability to Iowa and this federal rule increases, rather than decreases uncertainty for Iowa farmers and small businesses.”
  • Congressman David Young, Steve King, and Rod Blum voted in support of a House resolution of disapproval, to nullify the expanded WOTUS rule. "Like many Iowans, I value agriculture as the backbone of our state and as an integral part of our national economy. I also respect the rights of our landowners, for all across Iowa we recognize the importance of our private property rights. Unfortunately, farmers and job creators often tell me they feel as if they are under attack by their own government. This is wrong and I will continue to fight for them and against this overreach by Washington bureaucrats and the EPA," says Congressman Young. (Senator Loebsack voted against the resolution.)
The resolution now moves to the president's desk for his signature or veto.

For more information on how WOTUS could affect cattle production, check out this comprehensive article in the Iowa Cattleman magazine.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

ICA Hall of Fame - Nancy Degner

Nancy Degner was the 2015 inductee into the Iowa Cattlemen's Associaton Hall of Fame.

Nancy was nominated by the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) as a shining example of an individual that has given over 40 years of service to the Iowa beef industry. During her time with the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC), Nancy has shown the uncanny ability to make a connection with each and every person she has come in contact with. It is this passion, integrity, and honesty that make Nancy such a great promoter of beef, beef producers, and the beef industry as a whole.

Read more about Nancy's contributions to the beef industry here.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Spring Valley Ranch adds brand to ICA Brand Wall

In 1967 W.L. Miller & his family moved from Cedar Falls, Iowa to the ranch nestled in the hills and valleys of northeast Iowa. It is at this location where W.L. observed the many springs as well as the creek that ran through the property of which the ranch earned its name Spring Valley. The classic "S" inside a tailed "V" distinguishes the geography of the ranch. Since its inception, the brand has been used on the beef cattle and horses. This has been the ranch's business card of producing quality animals and protecting our livestock from rustling. The brand's unique nature makes it difficult to change. The ranch has, over the years, earned recognition on a state and national level for its contributions to the horse and cattle industries. The ranch was also featured in photos in the April 1989 Iowa Visitors Guide (pgs. 53 & 54).

The brand and the legacy that has sprung from the ranch has a rich history of cattle and horses; W.L. brought some of the first registered paint and quarter horses to the state of Iowa. W.L. put those good horses to work with his blended beef cow/calf operation. In its hey day he had 300 head of mothers and operated over 1200 acres. 

Today, Matt & Cassie (W.L.'s granddaughter) have brought back an Angus/Sim-Angus cow/calf operation on a smaller scale, starting in the early 2000's. "Utilizing NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program monies, we have developed a 60 acre rotational grazing pasture which has enhanced and eased the stress on pastures during the dog days of summer. We provide calves to a private feed yard while retaining a few heifers each year. Our approach to producing efficient cattle utilizes hearty, western bred commercial cows on registered Angus or Simmental bulls with a emphasis on low birth weights, docility and competitive rate of gain. We also utilize our working horse program to gather, check/doctor and sort cattle. Their intelligence, athleticism and cow sense make great partners out in the pasture."

Matt and Cassie joined 10 other families and businesses who added their brands to the ICA Brand Wall at the 2015 Iowa Cattle Industry Convention. Brand wall members contribute $1000 to ICA in order to display their brand. (See the full list of 11 Brand Wall additions here.) 

Matt was part of the 2015 class of Young Cattlemen's Leadership Program in addition to being appointed to the Iowa Livestock Health Advisory Board. Cassie is the 4th generation in her family in the agriculture industry while Matt is 5th generation cattlemen; it is with a rich history such as this that it was only fitting to put the brand on the brand wall at ICA. 

"We are thrilled to be part of ICA and the work that it does. We look forward to engaging the next generation of Winters' into the cattle, horse and agriculture industries, adding to the story of Spring Valley Ranch."

Matt & Cassie Winters
Spring Valley Ranch
Spring Valley Ranch on Facebook