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.

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