FROM: INDEPENDENT CATTLEMEN OF NEBRASKA
CONTACT: Contact person: Linda Wuebben, Communications Director, 402-357-3778
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December, 2008
ICON MEMBERS HOLD ANNUAL CONVENTION
one of the busiest seasons for a Nebraska cattleman, the Independent Cattlemen
of Nebraska (ICON) took time away from cattle roundups, weaning, branding, and
vaccinations to have their annual convention in early November .
event at Valentine High School included a panel of five Nebraska state senators,
animal health and ID issues, carbon credits and wind energy, checkoff reform and
If we dont take time to do this, who will?
said Louis Day, CEO of ICON, an affiliate of R-Calf USA and Nebraska chairman
for R-Calf USA. The ICON directors were especially pleased with the larger attendance
- up from the last years annual meeting held in the summer.
important milestone for the group was the passage of LB 632, a bill sponsored
by Senator Cap Dierks. The bill was signed by Governor Dave Heineman and determined
the premise or animal ID program initiated by the USDA was voluntary in the state
The ICON organization worked closely with Dierks when the
bill was drafted and the directors are hoping for another working legal relationship
soon. At Saturdays convention, Dierks told the members present he would
be very interested in drafting a bill which would make changes to the recently-passed
fencing bill a subject dear to ranchers and farmers.
One of the
resolutions approved by the cattlemens association would revise LB 108 and
make all landowners responsible for the fences which run along their property
not just livestock owners.
It was only one of twelve resolutions
the active rural Nebraska cattlemen put on the table at the convention and asked
state senators and members to take a look at.
The senators told it like
it is in Lincoln and left no doubt in the ranchers minds where they stood.
Even though the senators wanted to pat themselves on the back for having a $500,000,000
cash reserve, they talked about hard issues like small schools and state aid.
Water issues were high on everyones minds as they kept close tabs on the
Republican River issue and lawsuit decisions.
The designation of the Niobrara
River as a scenic river and all the resulting preservation requirements which
tag along had the Nebraska ranchers and farmers asking vital questions about future
Im sure with 49 senators, there will be 49
issues, said LeRoy Louden of Ellsworth and District 49. One of the
first issues we will have to deal with will be the death penalty and the Safe
Haven program will have to be revisited.
Mark Christiansen of Imperial
wants to talk about rural economic development which is livestock friendly and
work on county zoning with DEQ inspections which make rural areas ready for an
increase of the livestock industry.
District 34 state senator Annette Dubas
of Fullerton has placed renewable energy at the top of her priority list. She
believes the progress shown with the development of ethanol shows the leadership
is out there and now the livestock industry needs the same kind of new opportunities.
Just because we are rural people doesnt mean we need to be
satisfied with the crumbs which drop from the table, said Dubas. Economic
development in rural Nebraska benefits not only the rural area but the whole state.
Water issues along the Niobrara River basin concern Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine.
Surface water rights have limited the digging of new irrigation wells in her district
and that bothers her as does the recent changes in the school fiancé bill.
There are 25 rural senators thats a majority - and we need
to work together to improve rural economics and schools, said Fischer.
Dierks told the ICON members he hopes the free-holding issue in Nebraska schools
is gone for good. The past chairpersons of the education committee have been opposed
to small schools but the trend may be turning this year. He will still fight for
As the most senior senator in the Unicameral this year,
Dierks said he is saddened by the great problems with the United States. He laughingly
said Congress should take lessons from Nebraska on how to balance a budget. He
also criticized the free trade agreements and pointed out other downfalls with
True property relief is controlling spending. Dierks
pointed out the downfall of other countries throughout time whose governments
began to crumble when officials became fascinated with greed, power and money.
Watch who is elected to your boards and political offices,
said Dierks. Elect good people with common sense and never say its
Speaking for R-Calf USA, Kenny Fox of Belvidere, SD,
told the ranching crowd he believes the tide is turning.
to have beginning young farmers who come back to the farm or stay on the farm,
we need to guarantee they will make a profit, said Fox. Handing out
low interest government loans does not ensure that anymore never did.
The country of origin labeling (COOL) Legislation is getting its act together
finally. Supermarkets are going to be reminded they need to display the COOL labeling
and abide by the new law. Fox said R-Calf will follow up and make sure it is enforced
its the law now.
Comments by rural cattlemen about the Beef
Checkoff has led to the development of meaningful changes in the program.
In Washington, D.C., they have been conditioned to think big companies will
run the agriculture industry, said Fox. But by being active in this
organization and with education, a grassroots movement by todays rural
people will change that.
John Hansen and Graham Christiansen, both
of the Nebraska Farmers Union, talked to the ranchers about benefits over and
above cattle and pasture. Wind energy and wind rights have proven to be a reliable
source of valuable income for property owners.
Along with harvesting the
wind, rural property owners may also be able to garner an income resource from
There is a pride to be a rancher and to be able to
feed the world, said Jess Peterson, Montana rancher and Director of Government
Relations for the United States Cattlemens Association. But there
is more to farming than that government welfare check from the USDA and the soft
As a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., Peterson talks
to government officials daily about high input costs and a mediocre calf market;
unemployment in rural America; and now how rural America will survive the fallout
of the Wall Street finance fiasco.
Successes like the COOL legislation
and the opposition to the USDAs National Animal Identification System showed
ICON and Nebraska farmers and ranchers were ready to speak out.
pointed out the free trade agreement went nowhere fast and now the JBS merger
had Argentina knocking on the back door and cattlemen said no. He reminded the
Ag group to buy locally and encourage their schools to do the same. He hopes to
see legislation in the next year which will allow schools to buy meat where they
want in their home district.
The new Beef Checkoff Reform bill may
be another success for cattlemen. Only time will tell. Senator Jon Tester of Montana
introduced the bill last month which was largely drafted by ICONs Hanna.
It will contain language which will promote beef grown right here at home in the
United States and have a periodic referendum so cattlemen can continue to review
the success of the program whether it is good or bad.
ranchers and farmers with issues to discuss call in to Horn Wrap. At 8 a.m. on
the first and third Tuesday of the month, cattlemen can talk about concerns and
he will listen. The number is 1-785-686-2400.
Finally the ranchers and
farmers listened to two local ranchwives, Sherry Vinton and Tanya Storer, who
have researched property rights and issues. They are worried about how the federal
government seems to be constantly chipping away at property owner rights on the
The duo is concerned with the new carbon credits program being touted
by commodity experts. It seemed to the women there were more questions than answers
and no guarantees. They feel the same way about the recent scenic river designation
for the Niobrara River Basin in their area. Along with the new century, new wording
is being used which further confuses rural residents.
Some final advice
the women gave to the Ag people was to read the contract concerning the property
rights; confirm where the property is being described; find out where the contract
is headed in the future dont leave it open-ended; and be certain
of the jurisdiction lines.
Because once a contract is signed, those issues
cannot be changed.
To see the eleven resolutions the Nebraska cattlemen
approved or for more information about ICON call 308-458-7282 or visit their website
at www.independentcattlemen.com .
"Solid as a windmill. Always working for the independent producer."
The Mission of the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) is to protect and
promote the interests of Nebraska's
independent cattle producers. Office of
the Organization is located in Hyannis, Nebraska and membership can be obtained
by calling (308) 458-7282.