USCA Disappointed On Administration’s Path Forward with Brazil, Argentina

USCA (June 30, 2015) – The United States Cattlemen’s Association issued the following statement on the announcement made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) to allow for importations of fresh beef products into the United States from regions in South America.  The following may be attributed to USCA President Danni Beer:
“Once again, we are faced with an issue that has the potential to severely threaten the health and safety standards of the US cattle herd.  We acknowledge the effort and work put in by APHIS staff on this issue, however, the proposed plan to move this notice forward is deeply concerning to producers across the country.  Concerns have repeatedly been relayed from industry groups to the Administration on this proposed change in trade and we are disappointed that the choice has been made to move forward with the plan. ”
“Any opening of the U.S. market to the stated regions in South America is a step-back for the health of the US cattle herd.  However, this issue stems not only from concerns regarding our domestic herd, but also to the political ramifications such a change in trade with this region would signal.  Through this announcement, the U.S. would be rewarding countries that are proven bad actors in the international trade arena.”
“USCA recognizes the risk assessments completed and science being used by USDA-APHIS within the proposed processing facilities and supply chains in the specified regions.  However, we simply do not trust Brazil and Argentina to implement the necessary protocol and safe handling practices on a consistent and comprehensive basis across all supply lines to ensure the safety of those fresh beef products shipped to the U.S.  The margin of error when addressing Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is extremely slim, every precaution and necessary safeguard must be in place to ensure safe handling and transportation of product; we remain unconvinced of Brazil and Argentina’s commitment to this process based on their ongoing actions in the international trade arena.”
“Brazil continues to file cases against the U.S. and our trading partners at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Argentina is still in default on its substantial debt to the U.S.; why we would reward such actions by allowing for the import of their products to the U.S. is of utmost concern to producers across the country.”
“The precedent set by this announcement is troubling.  This issue, while rooted in the realm of animal health, will be impacted by outside factors as well.  The political influences that will come into play must not be ignored and rather addressed as a component of this rule.  Our concerns on this proposed notice were relayed to USDA-APHIS during the recent USCA summer fly-in to Washington, D.C. and we will continue to work with those in Congress and the Administration to address producer and industry concerns.”

###
Established in March 2007, USCA is committed to concentrating its efforts in Washington, D.C. to enhance and expand the cattle industry’s voice on Capitol Hill.  USCA has a full-time presence in Washington, giving cattle producers across the country a strong influence on policy development.  For more information go to www.uscattlemen.org

UPDATE ON NORTHWEST ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES V. EPA

On June 18, 2015 before Federal Judge Ricardo Martinez the argument to dismiss the case ofNorthwest Environmental Advocates was heard. Jack, Amber, and Toni went over to Seattle as WCA is an intervenor in the case.  WCA has hired Western Resource Legal Clinic, a pro bono clinic based out of Lewis and Clark, to represent them in this case.

     This case was brought by Northwest Environmental Advocates to force the EPA to look to the ESA to protect listed fish species under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA is just that, to protect clean water, not fish habitat. The CWA, at this time, does not have a component to protect listed fish species.  Both Timber and WCA have intervened on behalf of EPA, so both intervenors had the chance for argument on June 18, 2015.
    From a legal standpoint a motion to dismiss is hard to win as it does not take into consideration the merits of the case, only procedural issues. If there are any issues that cannot be dismissed outright, then the case continues. EPA argued that the case could not continue because Northwest Environmental Advocates has not brought their case in a timely manner and the statute of limitations has run on their claims. Timber and WCA argued that Northwest Environmental Advocates did not bring claims which could be heard before the Court as the Court had previously ruled, in similar type cases, that the CWA does not require the EPA to protect fish species. Both intervenors argued case law, and WRLC, on behalf of WCA, also argued the logistics of trying to combine ESA into the CWA. The time frames alone for both to be considered do not mesh. Northwest Environmental Advocates argued that nonpoint source pollution is not being controlled by EPA  and poses a huge risk to fish species if these fish are not considered under the CWA. The main argument for Northwest Environmental Advocates was if EPA does not consider ESA listed fish species when enforcing the CWA, EPA could potentially approve water quality standards that could kill fish. WRLC argued that the CWA is to protect clean water, the ESA is to protect listed fish species, they are not related documents and cannot be combined at the whim of Northwest Environmental Advocates.
   WRLC did a fantastic job on behalf of WCA. The Judge took all arguments under advisement and will rule at a later date. Federal Court has strict case schedules so the ruling should come quickly to allow the parties to stay on schedule with the next round of briefing.

June Ketch Pen Article‏

May has been a busy month for the legal field, especially with the Yakima Dairy Litigation coming to an end. As many know, Charlie Tebbutt was successful enough at Summary Judgment to force the Yakima dairies involved in the suit to resolve the remaining claims and enter a consent decree which is filed with the Court. Many will ask, what does this have to do with me? Well, quite a bit if you are in the ag industry. In the short term the consent decree only concerns the dairies that are listed. Those dairies will now be forced to double line all lagoons, increase ground water monitoring, install and maintain a certrifuge manure separator, pressure test and/or video inspect all transmission lines, install concrete aprons along all water troughs, locate silage areas away from impervious surfaces, a pilot project dealing with compost operations, follow a schedule to reduce nitrates in the soil, and provide bottled drinking water to identified homes in the area.
 This is a huge list at huge cost to already overburdened agriculture. It is thought that Tebbutt will then take the order to the Department of Ecology and try to use this order on other areas of ag. The win here for Tebbutt is that he can try and use government entities to enforce his agenda. The first order of business is for him to try and get this list included in the new CAFO permit process that is in the works RIGHT NOW!  To try and make sure that agency action is economically feasible to those in ag, it is important for all in agriculture to comment on the CAFO permitting process through Department of Ecology. Please pay attention to what is going on and make sure and comment on agency action that could potentially erode private property and water rights, and add increased costs to management and production in ag.
Department of Ecology is updating the nonpoint source pollution plan. Ag is considered a nonpoint source of pollution into water. Anyone involved in ag should try to review this proposed plan and make comments.
State Nonpoint Source Plan: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/nonpoint/NPSplan.html…
The link to the actual draft plan is under the picture on the right.
Ben Rau is the contact for this plan and his email is on this webpage. His phone number is 360-407-6551.
This plan, once complete, will be sent to the EPA. More information concerning this plan, and updates, can be found on my facebook page.
WCA continues to try and monitor and comment on agency actions like the ones I have listed above, and other agency action such as continued listing of alleged endangered species, changes to WDFW policy, DNR policies, the list goes on and on. It is very hard to keep up on everything as well as time consuming. Luckily Caroline Lobdelll with the Western Resource Legal Center has agreed to allow WCA to have another intern for the summer term to help draft comments which follow WCA policy, monitor the Federal Register, write white papers, and help review legal issues. Jack and I both come up with projects for the intern and help with intern oversite and work review. The intern we had last spring was amazing and did a fantastic job. Right now we are between interns and need work done, so Caroline has given us another student to work with to help work on issues due before our intern comes on board. I cannot say enough how much this intern has helped us in the last few months. When the intern project first started I do not think we fully grasped what we had, now that we do, we use up all of our allotted hours plus some. We share the intern with PLC and NCBA, but I feel that we probably have the most hours. Our intern will be helping to draft the WCA comments to the proposed new CAFO permitting process as well as the nonpoint source plan with DOE. Even with our internship program and the help of WRLC, the amount of hours needed to work on the water and private property issues are astounding. WCA has a very active board and membership and for that I am thankful, but please remember that even with WCA, individuals need to comment and act as well. Please pay attention to what is going on in our state.
The next DOE advisory group meeting is June 4 at Sprague. The meeting starts at 1 pm and I would ask that anyone with time to come and listen to what is going on. Vic Stokes has been a great co-chair and he will be at this meeting. If WCA members have questions or concerns that need to be brought up at this meeting, please let me know as I am the representative for WCA.
The overall theme of my article this month seems to be that we need membership involvement. Every paragraph I have asked for members to comment, pay attention, or become involved with one thing or another. I am also still asking for funding for our nonprofit groups like WRLC, WALF, Washington Farm Bureau Legal, and PLF. All of the groups that are out there working everyday to protect our private property and water rights. In last months issue I talked about the challenge that Franklin County issued for the other counties to donate to WALF and FB. I am once again reminding the counties of this challenge. WCA actually approved a line item for WRLC, PLF, and WALF. These groups are necessary to assist in the fights that non-ag groups keep throwing our way. We have a court date in June to hear argument on the EPA case that WCA has intervened on. Hopefully I will be able to have a positive article next month on how great it went, but no matter what, the positive message is that we will continue to fight to protect what is ours.

Hiring 3rd party professionals

This is a good article from Dairy Herd Management on hiring 3rd party professionals- like an attorney:

http://www.dairyherd.com/dairy-news/Tips-for-Hiring-Third-Party-Professionals-275358611.html

edy-cartoon-business-woman-tutorials1

Wolf Shot in Whitman County

On Sunday, October 12, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Officers received reports from Whitman County that a wolf had been shot southwest of Pullman. When our officers reached the scene, they determined that the wolf had been shot by a farmer who had pursued the animal for several miles in his vehicle after seeing it near his farm.

The incident occurred west of U.S. Highway 195. This area is in the Eastern Washington recovery zone, where wolves are delisted under federal law but remain listed as endangered under state rule.

WDFW Officers contacted the farmer, and a witness who believed a possible poaching incident had occurred. The shooting does not appear to have been associated with a defense-of-life action, nor did it take place under the statutory authority to shoot and kill a wolf that is caught in the act of attacking livestock in the Eastern Washington recovery zone.

We are actively investigating this incident and are in contact with Whitman County law enforcement officials and the county commissioners. Once the investigation is complete, the case will be sent to the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office for a charging decision.

images

Lawsuit against Yakima Valley dairies expands


yakimaherald.com
A lawsuit alleging groundwater pollution by four Lower Valley dairies has expanded potential liability beyond the dairy corporations to related entities and individuals owning property used by the dairies. A federal judge Friday allowed environmentalists to add one individual and several companies as defendants in the case that accuses the dairies of allowing cow manure to contaminate groundwater with nitrates, phosphorus, heavy metals and pharmaceuticals.

The dairies’ attorneys argued that the environmental groups waited too long to add new defendants and risked delaying the trial, but the judge disagreed, according to court documents.

“It is a bit frustrating that plaintiffs – particularly at this late stage of the proceedings – are continuing to make procedural moves that unnecessarily cause delay and increase costs,” Debora Kristensen, the Boise, Idaho, attorney who represents the dairies, said in an emailed response to questions Monday afternoon.

images

The Farm Bureau Legal Foundation

The Farm Bureau Legal Foundation is another board that I sit on. It is made up of great people dedicated to the preservation of agriculture. Right now with everything that agriculture is facing, it is a hard job.

Here are a couple of pictures I received from a friend when I spoke at Mid-Year. Pictured with me is Elizabeth Howard, an attorney from Oregon.