By TIM HEARDEN
RED BLUFF, Calif. -- The new president of the Golden State's largest cattleman's organization vows to continue the group's efforts to reform the estate tax, regulations and other issues.
Tim Koopmann, 60, a fourth-generation rancher from Sunol, Calif., said his family has been affected by the estate tax, which he called the "most detrimental thing" California ranchers are facing.
"That's something we've got to work on so agriculture can survive generational change," Koopmann said in an interview during a cattlemen's dinner and auction here Jan. 5. "In addition to that, there's an atmosphere of over-regulation making it extremely difficult to maintain a sustainable ag operation."
Koopmann said farm groups need to do a better job of "educating the consuming public" about producers' issues. He said average folks should be made aware that cattle production is environmentally sustainable.
"Were able to take lands that are unsuitable for food production ... and we're able to provide beef as a quality food resource," Koopmann said. "We provide great land stewardship. ... Many of our ranch lands are (habitat for) endangered species."
Koopmann made his remarks as he and CCA executive vice president Billy Gatlin were attending the 61st annual winter dinner and scholarship auction hosted by the Tehama County Cattlemen's and CattleWomen's associations at the fairgrounds here.
Silent and live auctions of various donated items raise about $18,000 each year for scholarships. Wally Roney, owner of Roney Land and Cattle Co., was honored as Man of the Year for his activism on property-rights issues.
Koopmann begins a two-year term as the CCA's president and succeeds Kevin Kester, a Parkfield, Calif., rancher who was also outspoken about the impacts from the estate tax. Cattle groups have pushed for eliminating the tax, which was set permanently at 40 percent for amounts above $5.12 million as part of the "fiscal cliff" budget package passed by Congress last week.
Koopmann takes the reins after a busy year in 2012 for the CCA, which fought unsuccessfully to kill a controversial $150-per-structure fee for rural fire protection and for a bill that would have stiffened criminal penalties for animal-rights extremists who attack livestock facilities.
Koopmann believes he is in a unique position to sell the sustainability of ranching, having worked for the past 20 years to manage a 40,000-acre watershed adjacent to his ranch for the city and county of San Francisco.
"I'm honored and privileged to be in the position I'm in now as president of CCA," Koopmann said. "I hope to benefit the industry and producers of California who I consider to be the true salt of the earth."
California Cattlemen's Association: http://www.calcattlemen.org/