6 CALF News • April | May 2022 • arkets, packer capacity, the environment, foreign trade and government regulations were hot topics when Houston’s space-age convention center hosted the Cattle Industry Convention & National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show in early February. It was only six months after the pandemic-delayed 2021 convention in Nashville. As in Music City, H-Town saw numerous committees and general sessions contemplate policies that will impact cow-calf and stocker producers, cattle feeders and satellite industries that depend on cattle production for their livelihood. Guest speakers ranged from a former world heavyweight boxing champ and NFL MVP to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Attendees also received Texas-sized hospitality that included prime ribeyes, two-steppin’ tunes and numerous educational sessions. Vilsack spoke by video link during a general session. He addressed provisions by the Biden administration to help producers counter the effects of drought and roadblocks that hamper marketing. “We have two main goals: First, we want to create more new and better markets, and second, to develop local and regional food systems to make our system more resilient,” Vilsack said. “We have to expand meat and poultry processing capacity to make sure the markets we have are as competitive as they’re meant to be. We want to make sure the supply chain catches up to demand and that we keep American agriculture on the move.” (On Feb. 28, USDA provided $215 million in grants and resources to strengthen the meat and poultry processing sector and create a more resilient food supply chain, part of $1 billion in federal investments to bolster handling capacity). Vilsack said more funds are needed to provide local operators with “valueadded assets” to improve markets. “We hope to see more farmer co-ops so producers can gain from processing and marketing,” he said. “We also encourage more price discovery [for producers] to be more confident in cash markets. We want to make sure producers don’t have just one place to go.” (See separate story this issue on NCBA’s Live Cattle Marketing Committee action on page 30.) Drought continues to dry out the Southwest, as northern production areas hope late winter snows will end devastating dry conditions in that region. Vilsack said USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program is available to deliver producers assistance to help compensate for losses caused by drought, wildfire and other storms during 2020 and 2021. He also promoted a new USDA app, Return of WOTUS Could Spell Trouble for Stock Ponds Ethan Lane, NCBA vice president of governmental affairs, said up to now NCBA has worked well with the Biden administration. But the administration’s efforts to revise regulations that would cross the line on ranch and other private property water management could drown that relationship. Houston Hosts Cattle Industry Convention A Whole Herd of Policies Discussed By Larry Stalcup Contributing Editor COVER STORY M Photo courtesy National Cattlemen's Beef Association NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. NCBA’s Danielle Belk is a strong voice for requiring fake meat products to be identified on packaging like real meat products. Continued on page 8 