Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Important Issues

During the WSGA Winter Roundup, there were a number of general sessions, committee meetings, presentations and discussions about a number of important and relevant topics to agriculture in Wyoming.
The governor elect, Matt Mead, spoke during one lunch session, and updated attendees on what he's been up to, and some of his plans upon taking office.
In very few states is the governor known by almost the entire population. With our small population in Wyoming, we have the unique ability to know and talk to our governors. While I voted for the other Republican candidate, I do look forward to getting our current governor out of office, and agree with Mead on some of the big issues.
The brand meeting covered the topic of using g-forms to take cattle to the Crawford sale barn. This is a topic I'm heavily invested in, as my family is for this idea. We market cattle in Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska, and having the option to go to Crawford on a g-form would simplify the process for us. It would save the brand board money, and as we primarily market cull cows at that auction, and it costs a lot of money for a brand inspector to drive out to our place to inspect a handful of cows.
While I'm on my brand board soapbox, I would also like to state that I personally believe the brand board should be elected, not appointed as they currently are. Their job is to represent the brand holders of the state, and I don't think they do that at all. There is no fear of not being rel-elected, so they all take up their personal causes and don't get anything accomplished at their meetings. They also fail to listen to the producers the majority of the time, and as a result of that don't accurately represent the wants and needs of Wyoming's brand holders.
Back on track now that I've let you know how I feel.
During the brand meeting the idea of an in-state beef checkoff was discussed, as there is proposed legislation to make it possible. Personally I feel like we already pay more than enough to different programs and causes every time we market animals, but very few go directly into advertising and promoting our product outside our industry. The Check-off does this, and they take up the slack so many ranchers don't have the time to do when it comes to telling the positive story of beef and ranching. So, while I would want to know how the money will be spent, I am not opposed to pursuing the idea of in-state Check-off.
During a water meeting I heard a heated discussion on proposed temporary in stream flow legislation that would allow producers to be compensated for not using water for irrigation for a set period of time each year.
The issue is that right now, if one producer doesn't use the water, the next guy on the water rights list can use it. (I think, feel free to correct me as my knowledge of irrigation and water rights is very limited)
This legislation would keep the water in the stream and not let it be used by anyone else if the original producer sold their rights into the temporary use program. The problem with that is if water isn't used higher up the stream, the ground water and aquifer supplies aren't re-filled, and pretty soon there isn't any water in the stream. Water rights and appropriation of those rights is a really big deal to a lot of producers, and having access to water that is left over from other producers is often the difference between having a hay crop and not having one on any given year.
The WSGA took a "strongly opposed" stance on the bill.
A Progressive Rancher Forum on Tuesday covered topics ranching from genetic selection in your cow herd to winter nutrition, to market diversification.
A lengthy talk on estate planning tools included a panel of producers from around the state who spoke about their personal experiences in transferring a ranch from one generation to the next. Those of us in agriculture are very negatively impacted by the death tax, and if we don't do very extensive planning we can easily lose our entire operation just from paying the inheritance tax. People are really starting to work on this issue, and learning what does and doesn't work.
I also attended the annual banquet this year, and had a great time drinking and visiting with new and old friends, including a good friend from college who is one of the ladies who puts the whole thing on!
It wasn't all work and no play : )
This is just a brief glimpse into a vast amount of information that was disseminated during the two-day event. While I completely understand being too busy feeding cows in a snow bank this time of year to be able to attend all of these meetings and conventions, I feel it's important to keep yourself educated on current events, especially those that have a direct impact on your way of life. Being well educated also helps in taking an active role in preserving, protecting and enhancing the agriculture industry and lifestyle, which is becoming increasingly important in today's world.

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