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.”

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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

WCA Board Meeting

There was a great turnout tonight at the WCA Executive board meeting. A number of issues were discussed, including the brand program revenue,  ADT, Sage Grouse and much much more.  Go to Jack’s blog to see more. http://www.washingtoncattlemen.org/jacks-blog/

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AG & WATER QUALITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING

 

Meeting Minutes

June 4, 2015 – 1:00 pm

With standing room only, every seat in the room filled, the regular meeting of the AG & WATER QUALITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING was called to order on June 4, 2015 – 1:00 pm in Sprague, WA.  Vic began the meeting as Co-Chair, but let the body of the committee know that this was his last meeting as chair; Aaron Goliday ended the meeting as the new Co-Chair.

Subcommittee Guidance Document:

Exclusion is not the only way to reach goals, but it is the suggested method by DOE.  The word “fence” was removed from the document.  Tribal interests have not engaged on the document so it may be pushed back.

The document will be sent out to anyone interested, as well as the staff.  It will also go out on the web as we want as much distribution as possible.

Note that this is a living document allowing for change.

Ecology’s Watershed Evaluations:

The Evaluations took place March 16 – 25, 2015.  DOE identified 262 sites as “concerned”, with a varied range of severity.  We will be sending out 20 letters as a result and 10 thank you letters will also be sent out.  In checking with CD’s, it was determined that 16 letters are to be sent out directly to the producers.  Templates of these letters will be on the website.

Approximately 24 dozen tillage sites were identified as concerning to DOE, included some construction, as well as some dredge site activity.

There is a 60-day window to get the findings out after the evaluation process.  DOE missed the timing this year to be able to present the first group to the DOE.  The letters will be more specific on the issues.

Also accomplished were 3 public workshops held, 8 meetings with CD’s, a blog, CD newsletters written, ecology website updated, A CD-hosted workshop was held in Asotin in February of this year.  DOE is planning follow-up workshops for early July 2015.

DOE information on the website provides the public with data.  Improved recordkeeping, increased efficiency and faster response time is necessary and possible due to the mobility of technology.  Mobile GIS research is to include base map, photos, field data, bread-crumb-trail, example BMP site, evaluation area, etc.  Not included are names, address, phone numbers, parcel data, email address and follow-up data from DOE. WCA did not support having all of this information on the website. Although this information is accessible to the public through freedom of information, WCA has taken the position that only some of this information should be on the website as pictures are a snapshot in time and may not reflect what sites currently look like. Anyone that wants that information should have to request it.

Updates:  In the CAFO permitting development, DOE will consider the Consent Decree entered in the Yakima Dairy case litigation as the consent decree has what DOE considers to be some positive points.  Comments on the non-point source update were due this month – June 5th.  WCA submitted excellent comments that were drafted by our intern then firmed up prior to submission.

The Clean Samish Initiative has stalled; stakeholders decided to do a 90-day push to make some progress.

WOTUS: DOE does not think that EPA jurisdiction really changes and will maintain business as usual.  The EPA has not been specific, but DOE feels that the 296 pages does not really change how Washington will govern the permitting process and overseeing of federal waters in Washington. WCA does not agree with this stance, but needs to take the wait and see approach. Clearly with the expanded definition of Waters of the US including connectivity, the jurisdiction of the Federal government is in fact expanded and this is not a positive for landowners.

NRCS – The natural water quality initiative.  Funding watershed improvements is mostly lagoon issues, but could eventually impact ranchers.

Round Table Discussion:

All DOE Advisory Group members were asked to participate and come up with issues for the next meeting. WCA, through Toni and Jack, added to the discussion regarding the fact that investigations are complaint driven and anonymous in nature for DOE and that needs to be explored on how DOE deals with these complaints. Many landowners are being targeted using this complaint process. This process needs to be fair, equitable, and transparent in nature and not a tool to try and get neighbors in trouble with DOE.

Best management is by principle not practice and DOE needs to stick to guidance and allowing landowners to have tools available to rectify any problems, not mandate how to solve problems. Director Bellon did state that she will not mandate no-till farming which was a relief to many people in the audience.

The Northwest Environmental Advocates vs. EPA is June 18th.

Next Meeting:  The next meeting be held in Yakima.

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Wildlife Agencies Propose Overhaul of ESA’s Petition Process for Species Listings

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (“the Services”), the two agencies that administer the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), recently published a proposed rule designed to improve the content and effectiveness of the species listing petition process. The proposed rule seeks to streamline the petition process for the Services and increase the quality of petitions by eliminating multi-species petitions and requiring petitioners to coordinate with the state agencies in locations where each species lives.

For more info click on their link:

http://www.natlawreview.com/article/wildlife-agencies-propose-overhaul-esa-s-petition-process-species-listings

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.

Waters of the US

Quick reminder to landowners, WOTUS (Waters of the US) is a land grab by the Feds. PLEASE comment! Comments are due this month. You can turn in as many as you want. We are hoping for 30,000 comments from WA. The NCBA has a format that makes commenting easy. 
http://cqrcengage.com/beefusa/water

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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.

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