Cattlemen Tackle Tough Issues at Inaugural Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit and ICA Annual Meeting

Market challenges, Foreign Animal Disease, beef import safety, the state beef checkoff and estate tax garnered the most attention at last week's Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit.

The summit, which was held on December 10 in Ames, combined educational sessions with the Iowa Cattlemen's Association policy committee meetings and annual meeting.

The Iowa Cattlemen's Association has three policy committees: Beef Products, Business Issues and Cattle Production. The committee meetings are open to any ICA members, and generate organizational positions related to important topics affecting Iowa's beef business. These policies drive the efforts of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association and are used by staff and leaders in discussions with local and national elected officials and regulatory agencies.

Policy discussions this year revolved around cattle marketing, foreign animal disease preparedness, beef import safety, the state beef checkoff and estate tax.

Beef Products:
In the Beef Products Committee, significant discussion surrounded the safety of imported beef from countries with known cases of Foot and Mouth Disease. Cattlemen are concerned that the inspection of imported beef is not robust enough to safeguard against foreign animal diseases that may be introduced to our country through beef products. The Iowa Cattlemen's Association passed a resolution encouraging the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to work with USDA to enforce the same inspection rules on imported beef that are currently being used on U.S. produced beef, to identify imported products through a certification system, and to ensure that imported beef is free of foreign disease at port of origin.

The Beef Products Committee also passed policy regarding the state beef checkoff, stating that ICA would continue to gather input from producers around the state on industry needs and work with the Iowa Beef Industry Council to fulfill those needs. Mark Putney, chair of the Beef Products Committee, was pleased that the referendum to reinstate the state beef checkoff passed. "Last year, we passed a directive to move forward with the state beef checkoff referendum process and it is gratifying to see that it was a success. We gathered producer input throughout the entire process and we will continue to do so as plans are made to invest the new state beef checkoff fund in beef promotion, production research and more."

Cattle Production:
The Cattle Production Committee tackled market challenges and foreign animal disease response. "The topics covered in the Cattle Production Committee meeting have been on the minds of producers around the state for some time. Cattle marketing is the highest priority of the association this year, and input on the policies discussed has been come from cattlemen across the state through listening sessions, phone calls, emails and more. While this is not an easy topic to address, the ICA Feedlot Council has done a great job gathering ideas and facts to initiate association policy discussions on live cattle marketing policies," says Isaiah Shnurman, Cattle Production Committee chair.

The committee, with input from the Iowa Cattlemen's Association's Feedlot Council, amended and adopted policies aimed at increasing price discovery, limiting market volatility, and reforming the CME's Live Cattle Futures Contract.

ICA policy now includes resolutions:

  • To eliminate all daily fed cattle reports in Mandatory Price Reporting, compile all price and volume data into weekly reports and delay the release of those reports at least one week
  • To alter the CME's Live Cattle Futures Contract by lowering the weight spec on steers to 1500 lbs, increasing the choice spec to 70%, and increasing the yield spec to 63%
  • To work with NCBA to explore a long demand option and dynamic contract specifications for settlement of the CME Live Cattle Futures Contract
  • To require producers in all major cattle feeding regions to market 50% or more of their cattle on negotiated cash trade
  • To encourage members to utilize voluntary price reporting of fed cattle prices
  • That the Packers and Stockyards Administration assure the fed cattle market is a fair and competitive marketplace with robust weekly participation by all packers
  • That Iowa producers should not agree to cash negotiated cattle sales further than two weeks out and if cattle are held past the agreed two weeks, the buyer will pay a daily fee

The committee also approved policy related to foreign animal disease including:

  • That the USDA place a high priority on the development of improved and validated FMD vaccines, including funding for production of an adequate supply and surge capabilities of the vaccines
  • Support for mandatory Premise ID registration with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship for the purposes of animal disease surveillance, control, eradication and indemnification
  • Education on biosecurity practices
  • Development of rapid, practical diagnostic and surveillance tools for foreign animal diseases
  • Additional funding at the state level for animal disease preparedness

Business Issues:
The Business Issues committee reinstated several expiring policies and strengthened the existing estate tax policy to support a complete repeal of federal and state estate taxes.

At the end of the day, ICA members ratified the new and amended policies at the annual meeting. Outgoing president Phil Reemtsma also turned over the leadership of the association to Mike Cline from Elgin, IA, who will serve as president of ICA for one year.

"We've got a lot on our plate for next year, with a new administration at the national level, uncertainty with trade, and market challenges. But there are a lot of positive signs, as well. The passage of the state beef checkoff referendum shows that people believe in our industry, and overall, the mood is still positive. As we face challenges in the future, we can all help and pitch in. Working together with our executive committee, our board of directors and our members, we will continue to strengthen Iowa's beef business just as we have in the past," says Cline.