BETTENDORF, Iowa — All elections are important, and the
upcoming mid-term election on Nov. 4 is no different.
“Put Nov. 4 on your calendar — there is no reason for you
not to vote,” said Colin Woodall, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association vice
president of government affairs. “Whether you vote absentee, through early
voting or showing up on Election Day, you need to get out and cast that
U.S. congressmen are working from 6:30 on Tuesday nights
until 3 p.m. on Thursdays, said Woodall during a presentation at the Illinois
Beef Association Summer Conference.
“That’s not a lot of time to get the work done,” he
After the July 4 holiday, members of the House and Senate
will be in Washington, D.C., for about 12 days, he said.
“They will be gone all of August and half of September,” he
added. “After returning in September, they will get home by Oct. 1 so they can
spend the rest of the fall driving toward Election Day.”
This schedule does not include a lot of time for the
congressmen to get much accomplished.
“And, unfortunately there’s a lot of things we need to get
done,” Woodall stressed.
One of the major issues is a proposal to change the
definition of the waters of the U.S. in the Clean Water Act.
“This is one of the biggest changes we’ve seen when it comes
to the Clean Water Act,” Woodall said. “The changes that have been proposed
basically would take everything that could hold water and turns it into the
jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental
The act was intended for navigable waters where there is
“This proposed rule removes the term ‘navigable’ and turns
anything that can convey water into a water of the U.S., like a ditch or a
depression in front of your farm that fills with water when it rains,” Woodall
As a result, if the changes to the act are approved, farmers
with water features on their property will be required to obtain a permit to use
that body of water or the land around it, he explained.
The permit process is used by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers to enforce the Clean Water Act for navigable waterways.
“There is a six-month backlog in permit approvals,” Woodall
EPA is accepting comments on the proposed rule, and the
comment period has been extended until Oct. 21.
“All of you need to submit comments,” Woodall urged. “NCBA
has a goal of submitting 10,000 comments from individual cattle
It is important for comments to be generated to show the EPA
and the Army Corps there is a “grassroots outcry” on the proposed rule, he said.
“The EPA has to answer every comment before they can move on
with the final rule,” he added.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a rule that
would allow fresh and frozen beef to be exported from Brazil to the U.S.
“We push for trade agreements all the time, but sometimes
you have to be smart about trade,” Woodall said.
Foot and mouth disease exists in Brazil. This highly
contagious disease is spread easily among animals.
“It is also a virus that can be carried on fresh and frozen
beef,” Woodall reported. “The U.S. has not had an outbreak of FMD since 1929,
and we don’t want it.”
If the disease was introduced into the U.S. again, it would
have a huge impact on the nation’s cattle industry.
“According to an economic analysis, if there is a localized
infection, the herd is quarantined, depopulated and the spread is stopped
immediately, there will be about a $5 billion impact on our industry,” Woodall
said. “If FMD is introduced in a feedlot, we’re talking about $50 billion, and a
lot of that is from the loss of our international markets.”
There are protocols that can be put in place that allow
countries with disease problems to trade with other countries, he noted.
“Our concern is we do not believe that the government of
Brazil has the resources or the commitment to implement the protocols to keep us
safe,” he said.
The comment period for the proposed rule closed at the end
“We are working to de-fund that rule,” Woodall said. “We
want Congress to know that trade is important, but no trade is worth the
introduction of a foreign animal disease that would devastate us.”
Every five years, the USDA and the Department of Health and
Human Services review the dietary guidelines for Americans and make any changes
that are necessary. The current guidelines were released in 2010 and are
illustrated by the MyPlate icon.
“This is very important because a lot of Americans utilize
the information, and the guidelines impact all federal nutrition programs,”
Woodall said. “We always have a fight to make sure we keep beef in the center of
There have been a lot of comments presented at public
meetings from people who want to tie dietary guidelines to sustainability, he
“They are saying if you are a recommended item on the
dietary guidelines, you have to be produced in a sustainable manner,” he
However, there is no current definition of sustainability.
“Who sets the definition?” Woodall asked. “We need to base
this on fact, not political agendas.”
As the November election approaches, he said, it is
important for cattlemen to vote for members of Congress from both parties that
support the beef industry.
“We are looking for members of Congress, Democrat or
Republican who understand what we do and are willing to step up and help us,” he