Cattle producers keep eye on taxes, animal rights bills

By CAROL RYAN DUMAS

Capital Press

Livestock producer groups are ready for the 2010 Idaho legislative session, which opened Monday, Jan. 11.

While budget shortfalls will dominate most of the discussions this session, producer groups will keep their eye on a number of issues that could impact their operations.

"Any legislation pertaining to taxes have a potential impact on our producers." said Bob Naerebout, executive director of Idaho Dairymen's Association. Beyond those, "there are some bills being proposed that we're being very attentive to, even helping write."

Dairymen are concerned with an immigration bill being written by Sen. Mike Jorgensen, R-Hayden. Idaho Dairymen are opposed to the bill's verification components that would put more responsibility on employers.

"It's riddled with problems for employers," he said. "And we feel immigration should be handled on a national basis, not state by state."

Dairymen are also hearing rumblings of a lien law proposal that would put feed companies ahead of banks in regard to livestock operations, Naerebout said. Such a measure would affect bank loans.

"The implication for a bank is they'd lower your collateralized value," he said. If put in second position, a bank is not going to loan on the true value of a cow, for example.

They are also watching a proposed animal cruelty bill by Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home.

"We're supportive of the drafts we've seen," Naerebout said.

The proposal defines production livestock and clarifies those livestock are under the oversight of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

The Idaho Cattlemen's Association is also watching Corder's proposal. In its weekly update, ICA states members opposes legislation that attempts to make common livestock production practices a form of cruelty and torture, or attempts to make anyone employing those standard production practices a felon.

The association is also preparing legislation that would prohibit counties from developing regulations for confined animal feeding operations that would pre-empt or attempt to override existing state regulations.

ICA members oppose new grazing rules as adopted by the Land Board this fall. The rules are up for review at the beginning of the session.

In addition, ICA is in the beginning stages of pursuing a constitutional amendment that would give the Idaho Land Board greater discretion in awarding grazing leases. The amendment would allow the impact on Idaho's economy to be taken into consideration, along with the expenses that would be incurred if competing users were given a lease.

Two negotiated rules proposed by the state agriculture department this past fall will also come up in session. One will raise the standards on raw milk and clarify sales regulations. The other will regulate third-party receivers of manure from CAFO operations.

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