Capital Press File
It was a busy year for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, working with the Trump administration and Congress to further the interest of cattle producers.
It’s been “a year that’s provided a lot of opportunity for us, a significant number of wins, but at the same time many challenges we’ve had to think through and will continue to think through,” Colin Woodall, NCBA senior vice president of government affairs, said during a year-end webinar.
Those wins include gaining access for U.S. beef into China, relief from some onerous regulations and progress on still other unresolved issues, he and other staff members said.
“One of the bright spots in our relationship with the Trump administration has been our improved relationship with Environmental Protection Agency. For the first time in many years and spanning several different administrations, we find ourselves with an opportunity to work with the (Environmental Protection Agency) rather than just always working against the EPA,” Woodall said.
Scott Yager, NCBA environmental counsel, said the cattle industry has a lot to be happy about with the administration’s position on environmental issues.
Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, “is all about getting industry stakeholders in the room and hearing their perspective on issues,” he said.
Nowhere has that been clearer than with the Waters of the United States rule, which went way beyond federal jurisdiction in claiming water and land features for regulation. The rule is now on the path to repeal, he said.
The next step will be a new WOTUS definition, and NCBA has been fully involved in the effort to develop replacement language, he said.
“Keep in mind there has to be a jurisdictional limit on where the Clean Water Act applies,” he said.
NCBA also scored a win in getting the Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 rule repealed using the Congressional Review Act.
The rule would have radically changed the way BLM does its land use planning, removing local input from the process, said Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA federal lands.
Efforts to prevent BLM from curtailing grazing in its land use planning amendments for greater sage grouse have also paid off, with both BLM and the Forest Service working on new planning processes, he said.
There’s also been progress on fighting the abuses of the Antiquities Act, with President Trump reducing national monuments by 2 million acres thus far. Those monuments reduce grazing and destroy local economies, and more designation reductions and restrictions are expected, he said.
NCBA and PLC will continue to focus on changing the way the Antiquities Act works to prevent future designations without local input, he said.
There is also good movement on comprehensive modernization of the Endangered Species Act. NCBA and PLC have been working with the Western Governors’ Association, which has developed bipartisan recommendations to reform ESA and there’s positive feedback on the recommendations from Congress, he said.
Other wins in 2017 include securing a 90-day waiver from the Department of Transportation on electronic log devices for livestock haulers, an issue NCBA will continue to pursue.
NCBA was also successful in delaying a court order requiring agricultural producers to report air emissions from manure and continues to work on a legislative fix. It is also working on legislation to protect agriculture operations from lawsuits under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.