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KANSAS LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS SET POLICY ON KEY ISSUES

Wichita -- Producers belonging to the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) adopted policy on issues affecting their business interests during the group's annual meeting December 1 in Wichita. Resolutions on animal identification, controlling feral swine, bovine tuberculosis (TB) testing, Intensive Groundwater Use Control Areas (IGUCA), the beef checkoff and many other issues originated in committee and council meetings, with final approval from the general membership.

Members approved a new resolution supporting legislation and/or regulations that would make premises registration for disease control purposes mandatory. Registering premises is the first step in implementing a National Animal Identification System. Most states, including Kansas, have struggled to reach a 10% premises sign-up rate after more than two years. Research at Kansas State University has shown that an animal identification system with a high traceback success rate would limit producer losses during a disease outbreak.

"Our competition in the world marketplace is well ahead of us in using animal identification to reassure international customers of beef safety," said KLA President David Cross, a rancher from Lewis. "It's time to step up and protect our business interests by finishing the premises registration process."

Another new resolution supports state and/or federal funding to control and eradicate feral swine in Kansas. USDA officials have confirmed feral swine in at least 23 Kansas counties. These animals can spread diseases to domestic livestock and cause extensive damage to pond dams, crops, fences and grazing lands.

The membership amended a resolution supporting regulations that would require annual TB testing of Mexican-origin cattle in Kansas, with the exception of cattle in licensed feedyards. Losing TB-free status would be an added burden and expense to Kansas producers.

KLA members support amending state law to add a sunset clause for existing and future IGUCAs. Ranchers, farmers and other water permit holders are affected when the state creates an IGUCA, which are now in effect in 20 Kansas counties.

Irrigation conservation programs are addressed in KLA member policy. Producers added language to an existing resolution calling for proceeds from the Kansas vs. Colorado water dispute settlement, appropriated for a state match of federal Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) dollars, to be targeted toward the Arkansas River corridor and other areas of Kansas considered to have over-appropriated water usage. The same resolution encourages changes to CREP that would allow non-irrigated production on land enrolled in the program.

The membership voted in favor of policy supporting changes to allow grazing on established Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) filter strips. This recommended provision would apply from November 1 to March 1 without any reduction in CRP payments.

Members adopted immigration policy during the meeting. The new resolution supports an efficient guest worker program and reductions in penalties for unknowingly employing illegal workers, particularly for those in substantial compliance with immigration laws.

A new resolution encourages KLA to gather producer input and facilitate discussion on potential changes in the successful beef checkoff program. A special industry-wide task force met last summer and recommended enhancements to the 20-year-old program.

Members support legislation giving work-site utility vehicles the same legal standing as all-terrain vehicles on Kansas roads. Usage of these units in Kansas agriculture is increasing.

Producers also reaffirmed resolutions supporting a voluntary, market-driven country-of-origin labeling program, and directing KLA to protect members' freedom of choice in how they conduct business and sell cattle.

KLA is a trade organization representing the business interests of members at both the state and federal levels. Voluntary dues dollars paid by producers are used for programs that benefit KLA members in the areas of legislative representation, regulatory assistance, legal troubleshooting, communications and the advancement of youth.

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