The South Dakota Cattlemen's Association held their annual convention last week in Pierre, where over 200 members helped shape the 2007 policy course for SDCA.
“As a grassroots organization representing a very diverse group of cattlemen and beef producers, it's imperative for individual members to participate in SDCA's policy-development process,” notes SDCA President Scott Jones.
SDCA members weighed in on new policy and revisions to existing policy. New policy set by SDCA includes resolutions regarding estate tax reform, environmental issues, animal disease control, and animal identification.
Members of SDCA voted to support legislation to reduce the estate tax burden for family-owned farms and ranches by working to increase exemptions; index values to cap inflation and capping the tax rate at no more than 15%. This policy was modified to support death tax relief efforts, but also supports the ultimate goal of full and permanent repeal of the estate tax.
Environmental issues addressed include supporting a proposal in the 2007 legislation by South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts to correct inaccurate assumptions in the original legislation establishing the Soil and Water Conservation Grants Fund. This proposal would increase funding for Conservations Grants Fund and value-added agriculture initiatives in South Dakota by correcting the formula that determines the amount of un-funded gas taxes. Other environmental policies direct NRCS to investigate opportunities for carbon sequestration on range and pasture lands; establish priorities for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and possible Conservation Reserve Enhancement Programs (CREP) advocating measures that support the producer on the land; and opposing the designation of additional wilderness areas in South Dakota.
In preparation for the upcoming 2007 Farm Bill debate, SDCA policy advocates adequate funding for priority conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), the Conservation Security Program (CSP), Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), and CRP. Other Farm Bill related policy advocates eliminating all federal subsidy supports on new cropland acres put into production by breaking native grassland with no previous cropping history.
Horse slaughter has been a hot issue in Congress this past year, and SDCA members affirmed their position urging Congress to reinstate funding for inspection at horse and mule slaughter plants and strongly opposing any attempt to ban horse slaughter. Cattlemen believe the proposed legislation requiring harvest facilities to pay for USDA inspections would result in economic hardship to many producers while dooming aged and unsound horses and mules to neglect.
Cattle Health and Well Being advancements are important to producers. SDCA supports the construction of a high containment addition to the current Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab on the SDSU campus in Brookings. SDCA also recognizes the importance of good disease surveillance tools and supports the concept of the United States Animal Health Association's (USAHA) recommendation for additional tracking of breeding-age livestock, in the event of an animal health incident. SDCA members directed staff and leadership to continue working with USAHA as they work to implement their proposed animal identification program.
SDCA members also reaffirmed their support of proposals to allow the free movement of state inspected beef products across state lines. It's clear that interstate shipment of state-inspected beef would allow great marketing opportunities for South Dakota beef producers.
“SDCA members have spoken and provided leadership with clear direction about what issues are important to the continued success of their businesses. We look forward to working with our partners in agriculture to implement the policies set by SDCA members and advance South Dakota's cattle and beef industries.” said Jones.
South Dakota Cattlemen's Association is working to advance the interests of South Dakota's Cattlemen through the representation and promotion of the beef industry.