Reaffirming their mission as “stewards of land and livestock,” members of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association adopted policy Oct. 13 calling for enhanced government support for environmental conservation, an independent evaluation of industrial wind farms and efforts to address the growing shortage of large-animal veterinarians.
TSCRA members also voted to support recommendations to strengthen the beef checkoff. The resolutions were approved during the final business session of TSCRA’s fall meeting in Amarillo, Texas, Oct. 11-13.
Considerable attention was given to USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which provides technical and financial assistance for rangeland conservation. TSCRA has played a significant role in helping to implement EQIP at the state and national levels.
TSCRA urged Congress to maintain and enhance support for the program. Specifically, TSCRA asked for a 60 percent allocation of EQIP funds to livestock-related applications (rangeland and confined animal feeding operations) and that the program be made available to all sizes of operations.
A separate resolution called for changes in EQIP program structure to allow payments for a “systems approach to brush control.”
TSCRA pointed out that most species of brush in Texas cannot be treated one time without reinfestation occurring, often before an EQIP contract has expired. A systems approach would allow cost-share payments for second and third treatments using mechanical and chemical brush control and prescribed burning.
“A well-planned system is much more effective than any of the three methods used alone,” TSCRA emphasized.
Also on the agenda was discussion of wind power, prompted by recent pronouncements by state officials that Texas should become the leading wind power-producing state in the country.
No state agency or other public entity has any meaningful authority over the siting of specific industrial wind power projects. Neither do they have the ability or resources to evaluate the impact on the economy, taxes, electrical rates, wildlife, environment or private land values of adjacent property.
TSCRA decided to ask the governor or legislature to establish an independent panel of experts to “evaluate the cumulative effects of industrial wind projects.” TSCRA recommended that the panel’s report be completed within six months so that “its conclusions would inform preconstruction planning.”
TSCRA also addressed the growing shortage of veterinarians who treat large animals and resolved to support “efforts to assure a sufficient supply of bovine practitioners and the veterinary support systems necessary to enable the industry to produce beef in a safe, efficient and humane manner.”
To achieve this, TSCRA supports increased use of veterinary assistants, technicians and licensed paraprofessionals “working for and under the direction of accredited licensed veterinarians.”
The Cattle Raisers also urged state legislatures and public universities “to make a priority of addressing the growing shortage of food animal veterinary practitioners, especially in the more rural areas of the nation.”
Finally, TSCRA members voted to support enhancement of the state/federal beef checkoff program by the following means:
1) Increasing the per-head fee collected for the beef checkoff.
2) Creating a periodic petition mechanism for cattle producers to hold a referendum on continuing the checkoff.
3) Creating an enhanced identity for the Federation of State Beef Councils and the overall checkoff effort.
4) Eliminating the charter date for established national non-profit industry-governed organizations for eligibility to contract with the Cattleman’s Beef Board for checkoff programs.
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is a 129-year-old trade organization whose 14,100 members manage approximately 4.9 million cattle on 66.6 million acres of range and pasture land, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma.
By Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association
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