Vilsack Vents About Cattle Industry

September 10, 2013 06:11 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Says he gets 'really frustrated' with cattle industry

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack continued his polarizing tenure as helm of the Agriculture Department today when he unleashed frustration about some in the U.S. cattle industry.

Feeling a lack of appreciation. During a question-and-comment session following his speech to the National Farmers Union, Vilsack said he does not think the cattle industry lead trade group and others in the livestock business appreciate the work the Obama administration, and USDA, have done to open foreign markets.

Vilsack on the attack. Asked how USDA would address concerns with how the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) manages the industry's checkoff program, Vilsack uncorked the following:

"I get really frustrated with the cattle industry, I really do, because we have broken down barriers in this administration. We’ve opened up markets. We have been been ferocious in our effort to try to get some countries that have been resistant and reluctant to opening up markets to do so. There’s never, hardly any acknowledgement of that effort. There’s just constant criticism."

Vilsack has come under fire on several fronts, but notably USDA's final rule regarding country-of-origin labeling (COOL), which is being challenged by Canada and Mexico, who won a prior WTO case agains the US program. Opponents, including most in the US cattle and pork industries, say USDA's final rule made a bad rule even worse. A US District Court judge is expected to rule soon on one facet of the topic, while a WTO panel is expected to issue a decision early in 2014 as to whether or not the final USDA rule fulfills the requirements of the ruling against the United States.

Another ongoing issue is the beef and pork trade concerns that several countries have banned U.S. beef and pork unless shipments are guaranteed to be free of ractopamine. USDA has wrestled with the issue for a significant amount of time.

Another thorny issue is Vilsack saying his department is taking another look at an audit that cleared NCBA of any improper use of checkoff dollars. He said he wants to ensure that the methodology was correct. But he said he intends to bring together a wide range of cattle industry interests to discuss the checkoff issue, which would mean NCBA’s critics would be included. "My view is that everyone should be at the table. ... It’s my table. So we are working now to get everybody scheduled to figure out a day when all these folks can come," he said. The "my table" comment is what some in the meat trade say is Vilsack's cavalier attitude toward some issues.

Still another contentious issue cited by some U.S. cattle and hog industry stakeholders is Vilsack's unrelenting support of the corn ethanol mandate relative to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), despite calls from a growing number of observers and even hints by the EPA that changes are needed for 2014 and beyond.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.



Back to news


Spell Check

No comments have been posted to this News Article

Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer