R-CALF USA Representatives Wow CPoW on Industry Issues

WASHINGTON, US - The Cattle Producers of Washington (CPoW), an R-CALF USA affiliate organization, recently hosted two of the organization’s leaders during its annual meeting here.
calendar icon 26 October 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

More than 100 area cattle producers attended the event. Hot topics like animal identification, Country-of-Origin Labeling, foreign animal disease issues, international trade and legislative items dominated the discussions.

The first item of business for R-CALF USA Director of Government Relations Jess Peterson – a graduate of Gonzaga University – was to congratulate producers for their success in building CPoW and keeping it strong. Then he briefed the crowd on cattle and trade issues that have caught the attention of leaders on Capitol Hill and highlighted the organization’s work throughout the year on various legislation, regulation and trade matters.

“It was frustrating when the House supported a ban on horse slaughter, but it’s likely the Senate probably won’t move on the bill and it could die with the expiration of the 109th Congress,” he said.

Peterson outlined the numbers of cattle that could potentially impact the U.S. market if three major South American free trade agreements (FTAs) are completed.

“Cattle from the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement countries total over 10 million head, while the cattle from the Peru Free Trade Agreement total more than 5 million head, and cattle from the Colombian FTA total over 25 million head,” Peterson warned. “This equals more than 35 million head of cattle that these countries will be ramping up for export to the United States.”

Peterson pointed out that R-CALF USA is the only national cattle-producer association fighting for safeguards in these FTAs that would define cattle and beef defined as perishable and cyclical products and protect U.S. cattle producers against import surges.

“R-CALF is currently working with the White House and Congress to address cattle producers’ concerns on both the Peru and Colombian trade agreements,” he said.

Peterson also laid out the successes of R-CALF USA, including items related to competition issues: support of the current bill that would allow interstate meat shipment; support of a stronger Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting bill; and, support of the Competitive and Fair Agricultural Markets Act of 2006, the first bill in more than 80 years that would strengthen provisions within the Packers and Stockyards Act.

R-CALF USA International Trade Committee Chair Doug Zaleksy also discussed international trade in general, and then outlined some specific concerns with the upcoming trade agreements with Peru and Colombia. Zalesky also serves as president of Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association (CICA), another R-CALF USA affiliate organization.

“That was a great crowd, really interactive,” Zalesky said. “They were very attentive and very interested in the topics. It was a good, good meeting. CPoW has a lot of active members that are very involved and always participate.”

CPoW President Lee Engelhardt echoed Zalesky’s comments.

“It was a heck of a good meeting, very informative with good speakers, and at the end of the day, everybody was still wide awake,” said Engelhardt. “About 20 percent of our membership was there, which right at 100 or so people, is a pretty good turnout.

“It’s gratifying to see so many people believe in what CPoW is doing, and good to know there are so many people concerned enough with the issues that they’d take time out of their busy schedules to attend and learn as much as possible,” he continued. “We had a lot of troopers who really worked hard to make this event a success.

“Jess did a good job talking about Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL),” Engelhardt noted. “It’s the law of the land, so it should be enforced. It deserves the funding to get it going.

“One of CPoW’s main goals is to educate people so they can make informed decisions in the future, and that will make our country better off,” he concluded. “Informed decisions cause solutions.

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