Commodity groups air their concerns about Trump and Congress at CLA’s annual meeting | TheFencePost.com

Commodity groups air their concerns about Trump and Congress at CLA’s annual meeting

LOVELAND, Colo. — At the end of the day, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Dairy Farmers of America and National Pork Producers Council have one common goal: advocate for the producers they represent.

The groups participated in the Colorado Livestock Association's annual meeting on April 6 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Loveland, Colo. Thursday morning featured a panel of representatives from those groups, who discussed what they need from President Donald Trump and Congress.

TRADE

The panelists often referred to Trump's campaign promise to expand trade opportunities. However, Thad Lively, senior vice president for trade access for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, who moderatored the panel, pointed out that there are many producers who feel the president hasn't done enough to help the agriculture community, especially when it comes to international trade.

Taking the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was one example where some believe Trump wasn't considering agriculture in his decision.

For the beef industry, the TPP would have been a big win, Colin Woodall, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said, as it would have helped with exports to China by leveling the tariff playing field with Australia. The tariff between the U.S. and Japan is almost 40 percent, so its cheaper for Japan to purchase beef from Australia because of lower interest rates.

"Nothing in the beef industry is really going to change for us," Woodall said, but he added the focus is now on making unilateral agreements with individual countries the U.S. doesn't currently have trade agreements with.

Woodall also said he hoped Trump's meeting with China's president, Xi Jinping, would help to promote U.S. beef. In September 2016, China lifted its ban of U.S. beef imports — imposed when bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease affected U.S. cattle herds — but China still isn't importing any U.S. beef.

"Those concerns are past, and the way the Chinese have treated us, as a political football, is less about beef," Woodall said.

SONNY PERDUE AND SCOTT PRUITT

Jackie Klippenstein, vice president of industry and legislative affairs for the Dairy Farmers of America said the slow pace at which Congress works is a problem for the dairy industry. One reason for this is that the Trump administration doesn't have some important postions filled. "(Trump) doesn't have his U.S. trade rep, he doesn't have the ambassador for China, he doesn't have Sonny Perdue, who we hope will be confirmed here in the next few weeks as ag secretary, and we know this isn't on the President, but on the Senate," Klippenstein said.

According to James Thompson, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet's regional director for the northern Colorado eastern plains, Perdue could be approved before the end of April, but that's a maybe as the Easter recess is about to start for Congress.

However, the panelists, which also included Michael Formica, assistant vice president domestic policy and legal council for the National Pork Producers Council, were optimistic about Perdue's pending appointment and the potential for a better working relationship between the leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Scott Pruitt's Environmental Protection Agency. The agriculture industry has been critical of many of EPA's rules and regulations that they say are not supportive of the agriculture industry.

"We can't stop smiling when we're talking about the EPA. A year ago I'd call it 'Eliminating Production Agriculture,' and now we think the new administrator is our best friend," Woodall said. ❖

— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at sfox@greeleytribune.com, (970) 392-4410 or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.