Protecting the Business Environment

Published on Mon, 06/08/2015 - 1:39pm

 By Philip Ellis, NCBA President 

You won’t find many cattlemen or women willing to complain about moisture, but there are a good number who are receiving more than enough right now. At our home place in Wyoming, we’ve had a wet spring and as it warms up, we’re set to have a great grass season. As I traveled during May, it was evident that many of our members are facing a similarly positive situation. California remains the exception and we know that the cattlemen and women in much of the state continue to struggle with a long-term drought that has brought devastation to their operations.

The moisture situation across much of the United States during the summer ahead looks positive for producers and the business environment. Already we’re seeing signs of expansion in our industry, meaning that larger supplies of cattle and beef are directly ahead. That’s great news, but it also means we must be diligent in defending the business environment to ensure we have a growing market for our products at home and abroad. That need for growth is why NCBA has expended so much effort for more than a decade on the issue of mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).

Last month, for the fourth time, the World Trade Organization has ruled against this burdensome and costly U.S. law and the next step is retaliation by Canada and Mexico, two of our largest and most important beef trading partners. Retaliation will irreparably harm our economy and our relationships with those two nations while also sending a signal to the world that the United States doesn’t play by the rules. It is long past time that Congress repeal this broken regulation and NCBA remains committed to that effort.

But NCBA’s work to protect the business environment for our members goes beyond trade issues to include the defeat of burdensome regulations like the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plan to expand regulatory oversight of Waters of the United States, or WOTUS. Last month, despite just a six month review of more than a million submitted comments, EPA wrote off rural America when it rolled out its plan to strip Americans of their private property rights and add hundreds of thousands of stream miles and acres of land to federal jurisdiction.

Not only did the EPA write the proposal expanding the reach of the Clean Water Act without input from agriculture, the Agency implemented its own grassroots lobbying campaign to drown out the concerns of private property owners. The taxpayer-funded campaign was promoted through social media channels and called for people to share EPA’s oversimplified and misleading talking points. EPA went a step further during a press conference when Administrator McCarthy called the concerns of cattlemen “ludicrous.”

It’s clear that EPA’s intent to expand its oversight of WOTUS will have a drastic and negative impact on America’s farmers and ranchers. It’s crucial that your elected officials in Congress hear from each and every one of you. At a time when the beef industry is on the verge of growth and ample moisture is filling the ponds and ditches of our nation, the very ones the EPA intends to regulate, we need Congressional support to stop this damaging expansion of federal jurisdiction before it’s too late.

Philip Ellis is a fifth-generation rancher who stewards a commercial cow-calf operation in Bear Creek Valley in southeast Wyoming. Philip has been involved in the cattle industry for many years and has served in various leadership roles. He has been active at the state level in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and nationally, serving on the NCBA Board of Directors and the Ag Policy Committee. Ellis was the Region V Vice President, President Elect and is now currently serving as the President.