From: David L. Wright, ICON Board of Directors
Date: March 10, 2005
LETTER TO THE EDITOR - Midland News, et al
On March 2 federal judge Richard Cebull of Montana ruled in favor of
the injunction brought forth by R-Calf USA to keep the Canadian border
closed. As a result there has been some criticism from a few leaders
who are responsible for representing Nebraska in Washington. They seem
to have forgotten who helped them achieve the status and positions which
they currently enjoy.
As a rancher in Holt County, I would like to share a few observations
with the citizens of Nebraska. In December of 2003 a Canadian cow in
Washington State was discovered to have BSE. As a result the price of
cattle fell drastictly. One month later we sold our calves and had to
accept less for our years worth of work because of ONE CANADIAN cow.
After the sell I added up our expense for the year and came across the
sobering fact. We spent 17% of our gross income on property tax. This
year the prices have rebounded; we sold our calves for the highest price
in our lives. As I figured our property taxes there was more sobering
news, our tax went up 6%. Even with record calf prices we still paid
14% of our gross income to property tax. That is GROSS not NET, I don't
know of any other business with such a property tax burden.
The USDA has just released the cattle inventory for all cattle and
calves in Canada. As of January 1, 2005 it is up 3% from January 1,
2004 and up 12% from two years ago. The Organization for Competitive
Markets has reported that industry experts predict a potential decline
in cattle prices of $20 per hundredweight or $240 per head if the Canadian
border is opened. If this happens, I believe our rural communities will
feel the pinch, not those in Washington who are pushing for this trade.
Those who are criticizing the Montana ruling like to use the term free
trade. I always though that you traded your surplus for products you
were in need of. If I have oranges and you have apples then I trade
you some oranges for apples. If we both have apples, there is nothing
to trade, or could this be called free outsourcing.
The Canadian herd has had 4 cases of BSE, their herd is about 16% of
the size of the US herd yet the Canadians test at the same rate as we
do. They should be testing 20 times the rate we do considering their
I would like to ask Nebraskans to take the time to call those who represent
us and let them know how you feel about this.
Board of Directors, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska
Lee Terry (402) 397-9944
Tom Osborne (308) 381-5555
Jeff Forenberry (402) 438-1598
Chuck Hagel (402) 476- 1400
Ben Nelson (402) 441-4600