It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to post, but rest assured, there has been plenty to keep us busy in TSCRA’s government and public affairs office.
I wish one of the things that had been keeping busy this week was the opening of Texas’ Dove Season on Tuesday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards. Hopefully this weekend will be a different story!
While the north and central zones opened on Sept. 1, those of you in the south zone will have wait until tomorrow to take advantage of the special White-Winged Dove days on Sept. 5, 6, 12, 13. The south zone regular season opens on Sept. 14. I hope y’all get to enjoy some time in the field this weekend if you’re so inclined.
It’s also Labor Day weekend, which became a national holiday in 1894 to honor American workers and their contributions to the economy. A worthy celebration, no doubt, but for whatever reason, agriculture has been largely left out of the equation since the beginning despite the impact our work has on the economy. Even so, I’ll take some solace in knowing that millions of Americans will celebrate the occasion by throwing steaks and burgers on the grill. I would also be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to thank all those with manufacturing jobs that support cattle producers.
While we’re talking dates, next Friday, Sept. 11, is the deadline to apply for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP. Go here for more information on the program and how to apply. USDA is discussing a second round of CFAP assistance using money that Congress has already appropriated, but details are still scant. If you’re eligible for this round, you may not want to wait since we don’t know for sure what will happen moving forward.
You may remember TSCRA Second Vice President Arthur Uhl met with Secretary Perdue a while back to discuss the needs of cattle producers moving forward. One of his main topics was the need to expand the date range for eligibility, and I am happy to report Secretary Perdue intends to address that issue in the next round of aid.
Congress is slated to return from their August recess next week, but discussions on another round of Congressional coronavirus assistance are still stalled. Democrats and Republicans are at an impasse on a variety of issues, and leaders from both parties are pessimistic about the potential for a deal. Election season is also in full force, which promises to further distract everyone from their regular business.
We’re less than two months from election day and even closer to early voting, which in Texas begins on Oct. 13. TSCRA leaders and staff are working hard to finalize our voting recommendations for the general election, so stay tuned.
We’ve also been busy conducting virtual TSCRA policy committee meetings over recent weeks and are preparing for the Cattle Raisers Virtual Convention. If you haven’t registered to attend yet, I highly recommend it. There will be a fantastic slate of speakers on everything from price discovery and cattle marketing to land and retail trends. The new virtual format means it’s easier and more affordable than ever to participate, so hopefully, I’ll see you there! Get more info and sign up here.
In other news, NCBA’s working group is beginning their effort to establish the negotiated trade triggers discussed at the NCBA summer business meeting. The group has until Oct. 1 to complete their work, after which the packers will be asked to meet the negotiated trade triggers established by the group. If they fail to do so, NCBA will be required to support mandatory legislative or regulatory solutions. TSCRA is actively participating in the process to ensure the results are meaningful for cow-calf producers.
Recent weeks have brought a renewed focus on trade, this time with Taiwan. Last week, Taiwan announced that they would start the process to do away with their 30-month age restriction on U.S. beef.
Taiwan is already a top destination for U.S. beef and is also the fourth largest destination for Texas beef. Their continued adoption of science-based standards is an important step forward that will benefit both Taiwanese consumers and American beef producers.
TSCRA has also been working with government officials and other agricultural groups on various endangered species issues from the Lesser Prairie Chicken to a new federal rule that defines the term “habitat.” Stay tuned for more on that in the coming weeks.
That’s all for this week, so until next time!
Jeremy Fuchs is the director of public affairs for Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.