North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) members carried the priorities and concerns of the state’s cattle producers to Washington, D.C., last week as participants in the Public Lands Council’s and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Legislative Conferences.
The Flickertail State cattle producers and their counterparts from across the United States met with agency leaders and Congressional members to weigh in on important issues ranging from the Waters of the United States Rule to Livestock Mandatory Reporting reauthorization to help federal decision-makers better understand implications for North Dakota’s cattle-ranching families.
“It is vitally important for the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, on behalf of our state’s livestock producers, to cultivate and maintain strong working relationships with agency officials and members of Congress to help shape policy that impacts our lives and our livelihoods,” explained NDSA Vice President Randy Schmitt, a Rugby, N.D., cow-calf producer who attended the conference.
Over the course of three days, the cattle producers heard from Robert Bonnie, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under secretary for farm production and conservation; Shanna Siegel, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service national director of live animal imports and exports; John Sagle, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol executive director of agriculture programs; Glenn “GT” Thompson, House Agriculture Committee chairman; and others.
The North Dakota delegation also had face-to-face meetings with Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Trade Representative and Environmental Protection Agency officials and North Dakota’s Congressional members. Among the topics discussed: the NDSA’s farm bill priorities, including fortified animal disease preparedness and response tools, the foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank and some refinement to livestock disaster relief programs; the elimination of the estate tax; and administrative overreach, including attacks on grazing.
“This was a great opportunity to share what is on the hearts and minds of North Dakota’s hardworking cattle ranchers and to witness firsthand the influence our national partners, representing producers from every corner of the country, have in Washington,” said Lowell Malard, an NDSA District 3 director and Bismarck, N.D., cow-calf producer.
The NDSA is a 93-year-old beef cattle trade organization representing more than 3,150 cattle-ranching members from across North Dakota. Its mission is to unite, protect, promote, educate and serve the state’s cattle industry. To learn more, visit www.ndstockmen.org.