Beef Industry: U.S. May Need ‘Strategic Hamburger Reserve’ after Obama EPA Implements New Regulations

By Chris Neefus|CNSNews

According to a representative of the cattle and beef industry, America may need a “strategic hamburger reserve” if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implements proposed new regulations for cattle producers.

“From where I sit, (the Obama administration) appears to be aimed at destroying the cattle industry in America as we know it,” Tamara Thies, the chief environmental counsel at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said on Capitol Hill last week.

“It is ironic that as we work to become less dependent on foreign oil, Obama policies are likely to make us more dependent on foreign beef. Maybe we’ll need to start a strategic hamburger reserve after the Obama administration is finished with us.”

Thies’ comments came at a hearing conducted by the House Republicans’ Rural America Solutions Group about the EPA’s proposed regulations on the industry, which include the toughest dust regulations in history – one which would significantly impact the rural economy by imposing steep fines on cattle producers who, Thies said, most likely cannot afford them.

“It is unlikely these realities are lost on the EPA, making one wonder if the real goal of the agency is to do away altogether with economic activity throughout the bread basket of this country and turn it into a vast national park,” she added.

The forum was held by Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee; Sam Graves (R-Mo.), ranking member of the House Small Business subcommittee; and Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, to consider several of the new proposed EPA regulations.

In a periodic review of its National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), which allow the EPA to regulate certain forms of particulate matter in the air, the EPA determined that it might raise the standard so that only 65-85 µg/m3 of dust would be permitted in the air (as opposed to 150 µg/m3). Violating the proposed new NAAQS standards can result in civil penalties under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA published that draft policy assessment in the July 8, 2010 issue of the Federal Register.

“(EPA) is preparing to issue a proposed regulation that is twice as stringent as the current dust standard, and is more stringent than background levels of dust in many parts of the U.S,” Thies told the congressmen.

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Notifications Published from in February 2010

U.S. House of Representatives Passes $410 Billion Omnibus Spending Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a $410 billion Fiscal Year 2009 omnibus appropriations package – about $19 billion more than then-President George Bush had sought, and 8.7 percent above FY08. The bill has been sent to the Senate, where leaders indicate they will finish work on the bill by March 6. The agriculture appropriations portion of the bill amounts to $20.5 billion, an increase of $2.5 billion over FY 08.

Some of the provisions included that impact the cattle industry are:

Veterinary Medical Services Act – $2,950,000

Air Quality Research – 1,090,000

Bovine Tuberculosis research in Michigan – 246,000

Brucellosis Vaccine program in Montana – 305,000

National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium – 615,000

Pre-harvest Food Safety research in Kansas – 142,000

Funding for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS):

Cattle tick research – $9,907,000

FMD and foreign animal disease research – 4,000,000

Tropical bont tick research – 425,000

National Veterinary Stockpile – 3,739,000

Brucellosis management – 9,584,000

Johne’s disease research and management – 6,821,000

Tuberculosis management – 15,657,000

Wildlife Services operations – 76,047,000

Other provisions under APHIS include increased testing, monitoring, surveillance, and other services as needed toward the control and eradication of this disease, and for the prompt restoration of split-state status for New Mexico.

In addition, APHIS is directed to meet the following program administration milestones that are derived from the final 2008 animal disease traceability business plan:

By February 1, 2009: Publish proposed rulemaking to consider establishing the seven-character PIN as the national location identifier standard and establish the “840” Animal Identification Number as the single version for the numbering system.

By February 1, 2009: Incorporate the NAIS-compliant premises identification number format into existing Federal disease program activities.

By May 1, 2009: Publish proposed rulemaking to consider using a premises identification number, in the NAIS-compliant format, for import/export facilities, the destination of imported livestock and the location of exported animals prior to the assembly.

The bill also includes $129,180,000 for Animal Health Monitoring and Surveillance, including $14,500,000, an increase of $4,713,000, for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Given this investment, coupled with the almost $128,000,000 that Congress has already provided for NAIS, APHIS is expected to make demonstrable progress with effectively implementing the animal identification system. Accordingly, APHIS is directed to meet the following cattle traceability objective that is derived from the agency’s final 2008 animal disease traceability business plan: by March 1, 2009, identify 30 percent of the nation’s cattle population to premises of origin within 48 hours of a disease event.

Finally, the bill provides $9.6 million for country-of-origin labeling (COOL) enforcement, $2 million for strengthened enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and $10 million for conservation technical assistance.