Big topics were on the agenda for Dec. 6, as leaders from around the state met at the 2018 Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit. This annual event is where the association’s grassroots policy development culminates and policy for the following year is set to guide the direction and priorities of ICA.
ICA’s three policy committees (Cattle Production, Beef Products, and Business Issues) each met to take up interim policies, discuss any new policy ideas, and review resolutions and directives that were set to sunset this year. The following day at ICA’s Annual Meeting, the recommendations from each committee were ratified.
The policy committee meetings were led by the 2018 Policy Committee Chairs: Isaiah Shnurman, Mark Putney and Mike Schwarck.
In the Cattle Production Committee meeting, national traceability was the first topic at hand. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from a panel of experts on the subject prior to the committee meeting, which spurred discussion. Ultimately, the committee recommended the ratification of an interim policy passed by the Board of Directors earlier this year.
The policy recognizes that “…the cattle industry should secure the broad adoption of individual animal ID disease traceability system(s) to equip the industry to effectively manage a disease outbreak while enhancing both domestic and global trust in U.S. beef.”
When ICA members were asked on the Annual Policy survey this fall whether or not they agreed with that statement, 74 percent said they did agree.
The new policy also identifies a list of things a traceability system should accomplish, including:
Be compatible with private sector animal ID and verification programs backed by the USDA. Be compatible with the general traceability principles of the OIE. Recognize existing USDA programs for beef exports. Be built using infrastructure that supports other potential uses of ID. Utilize low cost electronic official tagging devices paid for by federal and/or state funds, when possible. Require that cattle ID information for disease traceability be kept confidential and strongly protected from disclosure. Protect ownership information from disclosure to future owners. Protect producers from liability for acts of others, after the cattle have left the producer’s control. Operate at the speed of commerce. Not replace or impede existing state brand inspection activities. Work within a framework to accommodate all classes of cattle.
ICA staff and leaders will use the traceability policy, which was ratified by the membership the next day at the annual meeting, to advocate on behalf of Iowa’s cattle producers in national traceability discussions.
The cattle production committee also approved a number of other interim and new policies related to judicious antimicrobial use, clearance of drug technologies, and cattle marketing, and made recommendations on resolutions and directives set to expire.
Beef Products Committee
The Beef Products Committee’s main topic of discussion was ‘fake meat’. ICA staff, JanLee Rowlett, provided an update for attendees on the matter, detailing the work ICA has done and the recent announcement that USDA will oversee the most important aspects of fake meat production and labeling.
The committee approved ICA’s interim policy that supports use of the term “meat” to describe only those proteins derived from actual livestock raised by farmers and ranchers harvested for human consumption. The policy also supports oversight of alternative protein products by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The committee also passed a policy protecting USDA beef quality grades from use by other proteins, like pork, and made recommendations for expiring policies.
The Business Issues Committee dealt with a wide variety of interim policy topics, including immigration and water regulation. Rowlett provided a report to attendees regarding land owned and managed by the government.
ICA also welcomed a special guest, Hema Subramanian, Acting Special Assistant for Agriculture Policy in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Administrator in Washington, DC. Subramanian talked about the relationship building between EPA and the cattle industry, particularly the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, that she has seen in recent years. She attributed that to the Animal Ag Discussion Group, an effort by EPA and industry to understand all aspects of animal agriculture and environmental opportunities better. Subramanian also provided an update on the highly anticipated new Waters of the U.S. rule and recent developments in exempting livestock operations from reporting air emissions under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).
All recommendations from the committees were presented and ratified the following day at the Annual Meeting of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.