Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Harris Brantley Challenge

GCA Members Challenged to Continue Donation Traditions
By Sarah Grogan, Georgia Cattlemen's Association summer intern
Harris Brantley, a 94-year-old cattleman from Thomaston, Ga., has always had a hand in different businesses over the years. Everything from the laundry business, school bus driving, egg farming and since 1958, raising cattle and hay -- and even fundraising to build the Georgia Cattlemen's Association headquarters in Macon, Ga.

"We asked people to donate calves. I believe it was 14 calves donated by Mid-Georgia," Brantley says. "I backgrounded. I raised $3,400 on those calves."

In addition to the money raised from selling the calves, GCA raffled off two Ford trucks and asked for cash donations to pay for the headquarters building project 26 years ago. For the latest renovation project , GCA hopes to use Brantley’s advice and not have to rely on membership money, but instead rely on donations.

It’s definitely an inspiration to hear the stories of individuals such as Brantley and how their hard work and dedication to the cattle industry over the years has not only benefited themselves, but has also benefited cattlemen throughout the state of Georgia.  As part of the GCA Executive Committee for the original headquarters building project, Brantley had a big responsibility in selecting both a convenient and desirable location as well as helping to raise money for the project. Brantley, who is a member of both the Mid-Georgia Cattlemen's and the GCA Hall of Fame, is always looking for ways to help GCA, and this most recent renovation is no exception.

The tradition of donating calves over the years has become a great non-dues revenue generator for GCA that we hope cattlemen will continue to carry on in the years to come. Brantley challenges fellow members to follow his lead.

"I’ve always believed a person should support what they are trying to make a living out of. ... I sold my calves recently, so I’ll be willing to give a cash donation and I encourage all of our members to either do the same or donate a calf. It’s going for a real good cause," Brantley says. "By not having to use membership money for the renovation project -- that is the way to go.”

Originally published in the July 2013 issue of Georgia Cattleman magazine.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

House Farm Bill Fails; NCBA President Speaks Out

Courtesy National Cattlemen's Beef Association


WASHINGTON  — The US House of Representatives failed to pass the 2013 Farm Bill, HR 1947, this afternoon. The vote was 195 to 234.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Scott George issued the following statement:

“Passage of a 2013 Farm Bill remains the top priority for NCBA. That is why we are extremely disappointed in the failure of many members of the House for not recognizing the importance of a full five-year farm bill. In the midst of the struggling economy, rural America has been one of the few bright spots. This failure by the House places cattlemen and women behind the curve on having agriculture policy which not only provides certainty for producers nationwide, but also incorporates priorities important to the cattle industry.

“We were very close in this legislation to providing disaster programs for our producers, which would have extended disaster assistance for five years and would have covered losses in 2012 and 2013. These disaster programs are essential to equipping producers with the necessary tools to manage the risks associated with catastrophic weather events. After the historic drought which has plagued the countryside for the last few years, livestock producers needed these programs now more than ever.

“NCBA appreciates the efforts of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Ranking Member Collin Peterson of Minnesota in attempting to move the 2013 Farm Bill forward. We continue to support passage of this legislation by the House and will work to ensure that producers receive the certainty they deserve. This was not a perfect bill for any industry, but in the end cattlemen and women made sacrifices in order to support this bill. We expected members of the House to do the same.”

Friday, April 26, 2013

Retro Rad Recap: Augusta and Athens

By Dallas Duncan, Georgia Cattlemen's Association director of communications

Four burgers down, four to go.

Wednesday, the second day of Georgia Beef Board's Retro Rad Georgia Tour de Beef included stops at Sports Center in Augusta and Stuffed Burger in Athens, two restaurants that were declared "best burger" by their respecitve local publications. After an evening spent at Savannah's Thunderbird Inn, where Next Food Network Star finalist Emily Ellyn enjoyed a retro rad RC Cola and Moonpies, Ellyn and Georgia Beef Board staff were on the road to the Garden City.

"I have to say the Sports Center has been by far one of the best dining experiences I've ever had," Ellyn said. "The people are so amazing, so genuine, I can't say enough about it!"

And the burgers she tried were pretty tasty, too. Ellyn sampled Sports Center's classic cheeseburger and the "jacked up version" that included veggies and grilled onions. Both have been downtown Augusta staples for more than 30 years, owner Sandi Watkins said.

"They're made with lots of love. They're never frozen, always fresh. We make them every morning," Watkins said.

In addition to the homemade burgers, fries and onion rings, staff at Sports Center make a special sauce that gives their burgers a little kick -- Jim Hensley's Shotgun Spicy Mustard.

"It's really good. We make it and you have to wait three days to eat it so it will meld," Watkins said.

Ellyn called the burgers some of "the best cheeseburgers I've ever had," citing the classic flavor combinations and the kick of the Shotgun Spicy Mustard as her main reasons.

"You go in there and it's like a big ol' breath of fresh air, a warm hug," Ellyn said. "I am very blessed to have been a part of the burger tour now. We've had one of the best burgers. We've had the most creative, juicy, delicious burgers and we have had one of the most genuinely delicious dining experiences. I cannot wait to see where the fourth place takes us."

Georgia Beef Board staff made a quick pit stop on the way to the Athens restaurant at Double Bridges Farm, a state-of-the-art livestock facility owned by the University of Georgia Animal Science Department. Ellyn, who grew up on a Christmas tree and Texas Longhorn farm in Ohio, enjoyed getting back to her roots and seeing the university's teaching facility.

"I never thought I would see a Food Network chef on the farm," said Tyler Murray, facilities supervisor for Double Bridges and Georgia Cattlemen's Association member. "She was hilarious and I had a great time."

More Georgia Cattlemen's Association members and supporters joined Ellyn at Stuffed Burger for the final tour stop Wednesday evening. Stuffed Burger's concept is based on the Juicy Lucy restaurant featured on a Food Network episode of "Man vs. Food." In just two years of being open, the restaurant became so popular it's already had to move to a bigger location.

"We do all of our burgers stuffed. It keeps the burger very moist and juicy and gives a 'wow' factor," owner Hank Cheatham said. "You bite in and the cheese oozes out. It makes you want to take a picture of it."

Though the menu choices included a tater-tot-stuffed burger and one with a full breakfast inside, Ellyn chose to try the classic bacon-cheese-stuffed burger and one filled with roasted red peppers and pepper jack cheese. She gave them both thumbs-up and enjoyed the tater tots and ooey gooey milkshake as well.

"I loved them," she said of the Stuffed Burgers. "It's like, mindlessly simple. Why don't more people stuff a burger? The way that they do it, by putting a patty down and putting another patty on top of it causes it to not be a meatball. It's perfect."

The two-day tour was a different approach to the usual food events Ellyn attends, but she said she had a blast driving through Georgia and seeing all four of these burger joints.

"I was amazed at the amount of toppings everyone came up with. I really enjoyed seeing it wasn't just like, typical toppings, if you will," she said. "It was more like really tasty, creative, high-quality attention to detail. They were putting caramelized onions and goat cheese and eggs and really specialty farm bacon and pork. It wasn't just a burger. These people took pride in what they were serving and thought it out right to the bun."

See the rest of the tour photos on the Georgia Beef Board Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Retro Rad Recap: Macon and Savannah

By Dallas Duncan, Georgia Cattlemen's Association director of communications

This year for Beef Month, Georgia Beef Board is turning back the clock — to the 1950s, to be exact.

"I'm a Food Network chef and I am best known for my Next Food Network Star appearance. I take the retro and make it rad with all kinds of retro redos," said Emily Ellyn, finalist on the show. "There's nothing more retro rad than a classic American burger."

That was reason No. 1 Ellyn — who spent the day dressed in an "I Love Lucy"-esque navy blue polka-dot halter dress and a handmade hamburger fascinator — agreed to partner with Georgia Beef Board and Georgia Cattleman magazine to promote Beef Month on a Retro Rad Georgia Tour de Beef this week. Along with sampling and photographing burgers to feature in the June issue of Georgia Cattleman magazine, Ellyn signed a limited amount of custom recipe cards at each tour stop and took pictures with excited fans.

Ellyn made a quick pit stop Monday night to Nu-Way Weiners in Macon to brainstorm with Georgia Beef Board staff on what burgers to order at each of the restaurants.

"At first it was like, holy moley. It was like a book," Ellyn said, referring to the stack of menus she was presented to look through. "I was a bit overwhelmed at first, thinking, 'Oh my gosh, where am I going to start?'"

The tour visited Macon and Savannah on Tuesday and will tackle Augusta and Athens today. All four restaurants were selected "best of" burger winners in their respective cities by local publications.

The first stop on the tour was Rookery, a restaurant in downtown Macon, Ga., that patrons claim was a key player in revitalizing the city scene back in the 1970s. Recently Rookery staff chose to include a locally-sourced beef product on their menu, ground beef from Rocking Chair Ranch in Forsyth, Ga. Owner Joe Ezzard is a member of Georgia Cattlemen's Association and his beef is well-known in Macon as being the beef served by Rookery and several other area restaurants.

Georgia Beef Board staff and Ellyn tried two offerings on the Rookery menu, the Allman Burger and the Walden Greenback Burger.

The Allman Burger is topped with Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms, a homage to the Allman Brothers Band logo being a mushroom, said Roger Riddle, marketing director for Moonhanger Group.

"We're proud that we're able to say this is a burger that is definitely a Macon burger," Riddle said.

The Walden Greenback Burger has Macon roots, too. It's named after the Walden family, which included managers for Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers Band.

"It's got a fried green tomato on it, which is such a Southern thing," Riddle said. "This is another burger that screams 'home' when you say, 'Macon.'"

He advises consumers to watch carefully when cooking grass-finished beef, such as that used on Rookery burgers.

"These burgers are leaner. Be sure not to overcook them," Riddle said. "Once you get past medium, the grass-[finished] burger that's really lean starts to get a little dry. You don't want it on there too long to make sure you're getting the juiciest burger you can get."

Ellyn raved about both of Rookery's burger dishes, but proclaimed the Walden Greenback to be her favorite of the two.

"Do you get more Georgia than that? I loved it. It was absolutely divine," she said.

The two burgers she sampled at the next tour stop in Savannah received equally rave reviews. The Retro Rad tour took Green Truck Pub by storm Tuesday evening as Georgia Beef Board staff handed out recipes and freebies during the meat-and-greet. The beef distributors for the restaurant, Del and Debra Ferguson of Hunter Cattle Company, were able to come and promote beef
during the evening as well.

Ellyn dined on The Whole Farm Burger and Blue Ribbon Burger in Savannah. The first, owner Josh Yates said, is aptly named as it contains beef, pork bacon, an egg and cheese, plus vegetables, representing both livestock and crops on a farm.

"That's definitely one of the centerpieces on the menu," he said. "The Blue Ribbon is inspired by sort of a cordon bleu. We have the ham, a nice melty Swiss and a dijon. It's just a great flavor combination."

The secret ingredient to making a true Blue Ribbon burger? Berkshire ham. The Berkshire variety of pig is known for its marbling, similar to a high-choice or even prime grade of beef.

At Green Truck Pub, Ellyn couldn't pick a favorite — she devoured them both, including a veggie patty she added to the plate to make sure she got her vegetable side dish, she said — and even asked if it was possible to get another beef burger for dessert.

"I have to say, Green Truck Pub takes the burger championship when it comes to adorning their burgers in like, creative combos that are so delicious," Ellyn said. "I am full to the brim. It was totally satisfying."

Follow the Retro Rad Georgia Tour de Beef online. Visit the Georgia Beef Board Facebook page and Emily Ellyn's Facebook page for more information. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Retro Rad Georgia Tour de Beef: You're Invited!

The Georgia Beef Board is teaming up with 2012 Next Food Network Star finalist Emily Ellyn for a Retro Rad Georgia Tour de Beef this week to promote June Beef Month. Four hamburger restaurants in four cities were selected for this inaugural tour and will be featured in the upcoming June issue of Georgia Cattleman magazine.
"I'm looking forward to the Rad Tour de Beef - I know I will have a 'fabMOOlous' time on my quest to find the best burgers in Georgia," Ellyn says. "When asked to eat the best burgers around Georgia with the Georgia Beef Board and Georgia Cattleman magazine I replied, 'This is MOOsic to my ears!' How could I resist such a rad opportunity?"
The tour begins Tuesday, April 23, in Macon with lunch at The Rookery, followed by supper in Savannah at the Green Truck Pub. Wednesday includes lunch in Augusta at Sports Center and supper at Stuffed Burger in Athens. The public is encouraged to attend -- a limited number of autographed recipe cards will be given out at a meet-and-greet with Ellyn at each stop, and there will be plenty of beef recipes and freebies given out as well.
"Georgia Beef Board is excited to team up with Emily Ellyn for this tour," says Josh White, executive vice president of Georgia Beef Board. "Beef is an excellent source of 10 essential nutrients while only contributing 10 percent of your daily caloric intake. We are looking forward to the opportunity to share this and more information with consumers as they visit these burger restaurants with us."
The restaurants chosen are past winners of "best burger" contests put on by local publications.

Official Schedule


LUNCH: The Rookery
11:30 a.m.
543 Cherry Street Macon, Ga.

DINNER: Green Truck Pub
5:30 p.m.
2430 Habersham Street Savannah, Ga.


LUNCH: Sports Center
11:30 a.m.
594 Broad Street Augusta, Ga.

DINNER: Stuffed Burger
5:30 p.m.
1860 Barnett Shoals Road Athens, Ga.


Georgia Beef Board is one of 45 state beef councils funded by the Beef Checkoff. It is an organization working for Georgia's beef producers in areas of education, promotion and research. It is overseen by an 11-member board of dairy producers, beef producers, livestock market association members and Georgia Farm Bureau members. Georgia Beef Board is funded through the Beef Checkoff, where a mandatory $1 is collected for every head of cattle sold in the state. Visit Georgia Beef Board

Emily Ellyn is a celebrity chef based out of Orlando, Fla. She is the owner of Emily Ellyn Productions, Inc., and is a doctorate student in food service education at Rosen College. Visit Emily Ellyn

Georgia Cattleman magazine is the official monthly publication of Georgia Cattlemen's Association, the membership and policy organization for beef producers in Georgia. Visit the magazine page

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

GCA Convention Kicks Off with Forage Conference

By Dallas Duncan, Georgia Cattlemen's Association director of communications
The 52nd Annual Georgia Cattlemen's Association Convention kicked off today in Perry with the second annual forage conference, featuring expert speakers from around the Southeast.
"I'm really pleased with how it turned out this year," said Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia forage Extension specialist. "A couple of years ago [GCA Executive Vice President] Josh White and I were talking about opportunities to kind of encourage more participation in the cattlemen's convention. One of the things we really focused on was the ability to merge forage programming."
Topics in today's presentation included weed management in the hayfield, round bale silage management, insect management and a session on economics and risk management. Speakers included Patrick McCullough, Extension weed scientist, Extension entomologist Will Hudson, Extension animal scientist Lawton Stewart and Extension livestock economist Curt Lacy.
Producers who attended could earn up to 1.5 hours of Beef Quality Assurance credit during today's session.
"It's a great opportunity to learn about the current issues in forage production, which all the livestock producers in my county are very interested in," said Lucy Ray, Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Morgan County. "I really enjoyed the talks on baleage. That's something that a lot of our producers are looking at, storing their own baleage, so that's information I can take back to the county."
Morgan County cattleman Alan Verner was one of many producers who attended today's conference. He said though many of the issues discussed have been issues for years, there is always new information to learn.
"If they don't hear it firsthand, they hear it secondhand or they don't hear it at all," Verner said. "It's best to hear it yourself and talk to the professionals and the people who really know the information well."
Compared to last year, Hancock says the 2013 Forage Conference was up 15 percent in attendance. He called the program "a resounding success."
"I think one of the big things is for us to recognize the cost of doing business and how much of that is owed to the forage production enterprises," he said. "A lot of our producers feel like they're in many ways grass farmers, taking grass and turning it into a meat product that is very desirable and very nutritious."
The 2013 Forage Conference continues tomorrow with presentations from Auburn University assistant professor Jennifer Johnson and University of Florida Ph.D candidate Kim Mullenix.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Six Beef Cuts Certified Heart Healthy

By Dallas Duncan, Georgia Cattlemen's Association director of communications

Great news, beef eaters -- three more cuts were certified heart-healthy by the American Heart Association this week. Now, in addition to the 29 lean cuts of beef and evidence that beef in an optimal lean diet can lower cholesterol, there are a total of six cuts that have earned the AHA Heart-Check mark.

"Adding more beef cuts to a heart-healthy diet is extremely profitable for the beef industry and a win-win for consumers who love beef," said Tricia Combes, Georgia Beef Board compliance and program coordinator.

The six cuts, all US Department of Agriculture select grade -- meaning they have low intramuscular fat, or marbling -- are the sirloin tip steak, bottom round steak, top sirloin stir-fry, boneless top sirloin petite roast, top sirloin filet and top sirloin kabob, according to a news release from National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

"Having the American Heart Association certify three additional extra-lean beef cuts is yet another important milestone in the Beef Checkoff's efforts to help consumers understand the positive health and nutritional benefits of beef," Jeanne Harland, chair of the Checkoff Nutrition and Health Subcommittee, said in the release. "We will continue to support and apply scientific evidence to show consumers how they can eat healthfully with extra-lean beef."

In order to earn the extra-lean Heart-Check mark, a meat or seafood product must meet rigorous criteria. The total fat must be less than five grams, saturated fat less than two grams, trans fat less than 0.5 grams, less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol and 480 milligrams or less sodium, according to the AHA website. In addition, the product must provide 10 percent or more of the daily value of at least one of the following nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein or dietary fiber.

Beef, according to documents on the Beef Nutrition website, is a good source of iron, providing 14 percent of the recommended daily value, and an excellent source of protein, providing 51 percent of the recommended daily value.

The AHA, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other leading health organizations recognize lean meat as a nutritious food.

Cheryl Hendricks, NCBA registered dietitian and a contractor for the Beef Checkoff, says the independent research and AHA certification confirm the importance of extra-lean beef in an overall heart-healthy diet.

"We know that consumers are looking to retailers as a trusted source of nutrition information. Displaying the American Heart Association Heart-Check mark in the meat case makes it easier for consumers to identify heart-healthy extra-lean beef and as a result, grow beef sales among health-conscious shoppers," Hendricks said in the news release.

In fact, nearly 75 percent of  shoppers say seeing the Heart-Check mark increases the likelihood they'll buy a product, the news release states.

Each of these six cuts is one of the 29 lean cuts of beef. The sirloin tip steak, known also as the knuckle steak, breakfast steak or sandwich steak, is a thin, economical boneless cut great for quick skillet cooking or in a stir-fry. It's a thin cut that is best eaten cooked to medium-rare.

The bottom round steak is also best cooked medium rare and sliced thin, but thicker slices can be cooked in a skillet. It's also known as the Western griller. Top sirloin stir-fry is quick to prepare and is best used in fajitas or stir-fry dishes.

A boneless top sirloin petite roast has "melt-in-your-mouth tenderness" and a robust flavor. Despite being a larger cut, it is easy to prepare and slices into healthy portion sizes. The top sirloin filet is known by many names, including baseball cut, top sirloin butt steak and center-cut top sirloin steak, but no matter what it's called, it's a perfectly portioned cut. These filets are trimmed and ready to cook to "deliver a gourmet experience on a budget." The final cut of the six is the top sirloin steak kebob, derived from the boneless top sirloin steak. This moderately tender cut is affordable, juicy and works well with marinades, rubs and sauces. It's specifically formed to cut into strips or chunks for stir-fry dishes and kebabs.

Josh White, executive vice president for GBB, said he is excited about the increased visibility of these heart-healthy cuts and the different ways they can be incorporated into Americans' diets.

"It seems like the modern consumer is looking for permission to enjoy the great taste of beef they already love," White said. "This is just one more way we can assure them that beef is healthy and contributes to a healthy lifestyle."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. to Sponsor BQA Certification

Courtesy Rene Ward, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica associate director of public relations and internal communications

TAMPA, Fla. — National Cattlemen’s Beef Association announced at its annual Convention on Feb. 6, 2013, that pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. is partnering with Beef Quality Assurance to sponsor the cost of BQA certification for American cattle producers this spring.
The cost of BQA certification is normally between $25 and $50. However, between Feb. 11 and March 15, 2013, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica will defray the cost of the certification, making it free for producers.

“We’re proud to partner with BQA to bring this important certification program to more American cattlemen and dairy producers,” says David Korbelik, director of cattle marketing for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. “BQA is about monitoring and making incremental improvements throughout the life cycle to prevent disease and ensure a quality end product. We will also be working with the BQA to allow access to the training and certifica- tion program for animal health and veterinary students.”

BQA has customized programs specific to cow-calf, stocker, feedlot and dairy operations. The online modules teach sound management techniques that can be applied to producers’ operations. The cattle industry embraced BQA because it is the right thing to do, but certified producers also report improvements in efficiency and increased profitability. It also helps cattle operations sell their stories to consumers who might not understand all of the safety measures cattlemen take in producing the food on the table.

“It’s clear that Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. is committed to helping consumers understand that beef is produced in a safe and humane manner,” says Ryan Ruppert, BQA senior director. “This partner- ship will help producers learn about the latest industry advancements and demonstrate the ways they continue to provide a top-quality food product.”

He notes that BQA is the gold standard of livestock handling and animal welfare programs, and the company’s support of BQA certifica- tion demonstrates the company’s commitment to improving the industry. Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. has also placed emphasis on managing herd health before problems arise to prevent issues and keep opera- tions running efficiently.

Visit the BIVI-BQA website to take advantage of this opportunity.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Japan Releases New Protocols for US Beef

Starting next month, more American beef will be crossing the border into Japan.

The Japanese government announced today that it approved new protocols for US beef imports that will allow beef from cattle slaughtered under 30 months of age. Previously, Japan would only accept US beef exports from cattle slaughtered under 20 months of age, due to concerns about Bovine Spongiform Encephalopahy.

In addition, the US and Japanese governments agreed to regular and ad hoc consultations to review progress under the protocols and address any issues that may arise.

"This is an important step forward in our relationship with Japan and [a] welcomed opportunity to expand exports into a growing market with enormous potential," Kent Bacus, National Cattlemen's Beef Association associate director of legislative affairs, said in an email message this morning. "We have been working to expand access into Japan for almost 10 years."

In 2003, Japan banned US beef following detection of a BSE-positive animal in the country. The market was partially reopened in 2006 to allow for animals slaughtered at 20 months or younger, according to information from the US Trade Representative. Five years later, in December 2011, Japan's independent Food Safety Commission initiated a risk assessment to examine raising the maximum age of US and other foreign beef and beef products for export to Japan.

The results of the risk assessment were released in October 2012. Japan and the US then entered into consultations to revise the import requirements, including raising the age of cattle allowed to 30 months or younger. The definition of specified risk materials -- certain cattle tissues that can carry the BSE agent -- was redefined as well to align more closely with international standards of the World Organization for Animal Health.

It is estimated that this protocol change will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional US beef exports, according to a news release from NCBA.

Above: Kari Underly demonstrates beef cutting
at a GBB workshop
Summer 2012
Japan was the second-largest export market for US beef through November 2012, totaling $849 million and nearly 130,000 metric tons, according to data from NCBA. In addition, according to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the agreement "goes a long way toward normalizing trade with Japan" by addressing restrictions the country introduced in response to BSE.

"This is great news for cattlemen and women and is a significat milestone in our trading relationship with Japan," NCBA President J.D. Alexander said in the news release. "Japan is a great market for US beef and we look forward to continuing to meet Japanese consumer demands."

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called the move a continued step in this "most successful period in history for America's agriculture sector."

"We will continue to break down barriers and expand access for high-quality, save and wholesome US food and agricultural products to Japan and around the world," Vilsack said in a Trade Representative news release.

The new trade protocols take effect Feb. 1.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why the Legislature Matters to You

By Jordan Harrison, Georgia Junior Cattlemen's Association Convention & Summer Conference coordinator
I’m sure you're all too familiar with organizations such People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. The goal of these organizations is to establish rights for all animals. The only thing that PETA and HSUS have is influence. They can’t legally stop you from raising cattle or caring for other livestock.
However, they do tend to influence those who can. These groups attempt to influence lawmakers and members of Congress through hired lobbyists. The overall goal of a lobbyist is to convince a person in a position of political importance to make a law or bill to adopt the viewpoints of the organization they are lobbying for. For example, a lobbyist for PETA may try to convince a congressman to introduce a bill limiting the amount of cattle per acre on commercial farms.
As a current and future stakeholder in the beef industry, Georgia Junior Cattlemen's Association members should keep an eye out for legislation such as this. These laws and bills being pushed on congressmen by animal rights activist groups will come to affect us individually in one way or another. More directly some groups have even tried to introduce legislation that would make it illegal for kids to work on their family farms. If laws such as these were to pass, how would we carry out the activities to support our cattle operations? These laws would also make many FFA and 4-H activities illegal to participate in. Luckily this bill was not passed, allowing us to carry on our traditions.
As teens and kids we can’t always rely on others to prevent things like this from happening. Even non-age specific laws that limit and hinder agriculture unnecessarily should be watched with close attention. Even if they don’t affect us now, they will in years to come. As junior members we have to take an interest in legislation to make sure that we have the chance to build our own cattle operations one day. We shouldn’t let Congress and lawmakers decide what should happen on our farms without our input.
It’s my future, it’s your future, it’s our future -- shouldn’t we have a say?
For more information about legislation affecting the beef cattle industry, visit the National Cattlemen's Beef Association site and look under the Issues and Political Action tabs.. To contact your state and national Congressmen and women, visit the GCA legislature contacts page.