March 12, 2009

Groups adopt policies supporting animal agriculture

Resolutions that addressed issues important to animal agriculture were introduced by Nebraska commodity groups at their recent annual policy meetings held during the Commodity Classic.

For the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association, that meant introducing resolutions that were adopted at the annual Corn Congress. At Corn Congress, grassroots initiatives are presented by and voted on by delegates from all corn producing states.

It helps set the direction for the National Corn Growers Association for the next year.

In a news release, the Nebraska corn groups said they introduced a resolution on trade policy that supported the opening of international beef markets utilizing bone-in beef product from cattle less than 30 months of age as part of a stair-step effort to eventual full OIE approval. USDA keeps pushing for full OIE approval, but Michael Kelsey of Nebraska Cattlemen said the stair-step approach makes sense because it would cover 95-97 percent of the product that would be exported anyway.

Brandon Hunnicutt, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, said the move would help beef exports - as exports add more than $100 in value to each head of cattle.

The second corn grower resolution dealt with quality assurance programs that livestock and poultry producers have developed and participate in, such as the Pork Quality Assurance and Beef Quality Assurance programs. This resolution supports these programs and also emphasized that animal well-being guidelines should be based on sound data, expert analysis and economic feasibility.

"Quality assurance programs are a great way to help let consumers know that their milk, meat and eggs come from farms that use good animal husbandry practices," said Jon Holzfaster, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.

Similar resolutions were presented by the Nebraska Soybean Association at the American Soybean Association’s policy meeting held at Commodity Classic.

Debbie Borg, president of the Nebraska Soybean Association, noted that livestock producers are important customers, and it is essential that soybean growers across the country understand some of the issues livestock producers face.

"It is important for us to work with all of agriculture to educate consumers about modern animal agriculture, and how science-based quality assurance and animal husbandry programs help produce high-quality, safe, affordable and nutritious products," she said.

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