Legislation to codify the definition of beef and uphold truthful labeling on alternative protein products has now been introduced in both chambers of Congress. On Wednesday, Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska introduced the Real MEAT (Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully) Act as a companion bill to H.R. 4881, which was introduced in the House of Representatives in October.
"Consumers want to know what is in their food, and rightfully so," said Paul Defoor, TCFA chairman. "There are a number of fake products on the market that claim to be meat, when in fact, they are the furthest thing from real meat.
"Americans love beef, so it's not surprising that fake products would try to ride the coattails of beef's popularity, but consumers deserve more than deceptive labels. They should be confident that, when they buy a product labeled meat, it's actually meat. Furthermore, food labels should be honest and accurate, and these bills will ensure that consumers have the right information to make their own decisions."
The bills would establish a federal definition of beef that applies to food labels. They also preserve the congressional intent of the Beef Promotion and Research Act that was signed into law as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. Section (3) of that bill clearly defined the terms "beef" and "beef products," and although these terms were codified in 1985, they don't apply for labeling purposes. The Real MEAT Act would fix that.
Second, the bills affirm the misbranding provisions that are already on the books. These provisions were put in place over 50 years ago to prevent consumer confusion, and that intent has not changed.
Third, the bills strengthen enforcement of mislabeling laws. Currently FDA, the agency that oversees plant-based proteins, does not enforce mislabeling until a product has already come to market. This is, in-part, because FDA does not require the approval of labels on foods under their jurisdiction before they hit the shelves. The Real MEAT Act would change that by requiring FDA to notify USDA, in writing, when they determine a product is mislabeled. If FDA does not take enforcement action within 30 days, the Secretary of Agriculture can step in and take action.
“Beef is derived from cattle — period," Senator Fischer said. "Under USDA, beef undergoes a rigorous inspection and labeling process, but plant-based protein products that mimic beef and are sometimes labeled as beef are overseen by the FDA instead. These products are not held to the same food safety and labeling standards as beef. The NCBA has been a leader on this issue, and I am thankful for their strong support of the Real MEAT Act, which will protect consumers from deceptive marketing practices and bring transparency to the grocery store."
Fisher wrote about the motivation behind the bill in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal.
Thank you Sen. Fischer. We could not agree more.
A bill was introduced in Congress last week that would codify the definition of beef and uphold truthful labeling on alternative protein products that currently refer to themselves as meat (even though there is ZERO meat in them). TCFA strongly supports this bill, H.R. 4881, and urges Members of Congress to sponsor and support it.
The bill is pretty simple.
First, it establishes a federal definition of beef that applies to food labels. It also preserves the congressional intent of the Beef Promotion and Research Act that was signed into law as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. Section (3) of that bill clearly defined the terms "beef" and "beef products," and although these terms were codified in 1985, they don't apply for labeling purposes. The Real MEAT Act would fix that.
Second, the bill affirms the misbranding provisions that are already on the books. These provisions were put in place over 50 years ago to prevent consumer confusion, and that intent has not changed.
The problem is that many consumers believe plant-based meat is healthier, less processed and overall better for the environment. A quick comparison of the ingredient labels of both products indicates those beliefs couldn't be further from the truth.
Third, the bill strengthens enforcement of mislabeling laws. Currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency that oversees plant-based proteins, does not enforce mislabeling until a product has already come to market. This is, in-part, because FDA does not require the approval of labels on foods under their jurisdiction before they hit the shelves. The Real MEAT Act would change that by requiring FDA to notify USDA, in writing, when they determine a product is mislabeled. If FDA does not take enforcement action within 30 days, the Secretary of Agriculture can step in and take action.
The bottom line is this: Consumers want to know what is in their food, and rightfully so. The beef community has worked for decades to establish beef's strong reputation among consumers, so it is not surprising that imitation products would try to ride the coattails of beef's popularity. But consumers deserve more than deceptive labels, and this bill would give them the factual information they need to make their own purchasing decisions.
We are pleased to announce that you can now reserve ad space for the 2020 Cattle Feeders Resource Guide. We invite you to support this award-winning publication by reserving your ad space today. You can view, download and fill out the 2020 Rate Card here. Please return completed Rate Cards to email@example.com or mail them to: 5501 Interstate 40 West, Amarillo, Texas 79106.
Since 1971, the Texas Cattle Feeders has issued an annual publication to serve TCFA members and supporting sponsors. The Resource Guide is an exclusive publication distributed to approximately 5,000 professional cattlemen and women throughout the country.
Every TCFA member, including feedyard managers, general managers, owners and customers receive a copy of the Resource Guide. These individuals are the decision makers in the multibillion-dollar cattle feeding industry.
The Resource Guide is more than just a magazine. It is a high-quality publication that serves as a snapshot of the cattle feeding industry for that year. Venture into any feedyard office, and you are likely to see Resource Guides from years past on the bookshelves and coffee tables.
What began in 1971 as an association magazine has transformed into a historical record of the industry. Your organization is a part of that history and its future.
We appreciate your support and continued partnership as we look to make the 2020 Resource Guide the best yet.
For questions, please call Carmen Fenton or Maddy Bezner at (806) 358-3681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The TCFA 2019 Annual Convention has come and gone, and we wish we could go back. The Convention was a success with an estimated 450 in attendance.
The Opening General Session, sponsored by Farm Credit, kicked off with Levi Berry’s chairman’s address. Berry opened by sharing his appreciation for the opportunity to serve as chairman and commended TCFA members for their hard work, passion and dedication to the industry over the years.
“The day-in and day-out work of each of you is what provides people across the world with beef,” Berry said. “This is no small accomplishment.”
Berry talked about partnerships TCFA has with NCBA, the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the Texas Beef Council, and how those partnerships have benefited the entire beef industry.
“I can’t tell you enough what your investment in the beef checkoff does for our product,” he said. “Your investment helps promote the beef industry, not just here in Texas or in the United States, but all over the world. Every dollar you invest in the national checkoff returns almost $12. Couple that with the dollar invested into the state checkoff, and that is significant added value to beef.”
Berry thanked his family, volunteer leaders, the TCFA staff and membership for all they do to for the industry.
“I could go on and on about the good and bad challenges facing the cattle feeding industry in 2019 — what we’ve accomplished and overcome this year alone could fill hours,” he said in closing. “What I can say is that you have remained focused and determined, and it’s those characteristics that will carry our industry successfully into the future.”
NCBA President Jennifer Houston followed with an update on federal legislative and regulatory challenges the industry will face in the coming year, and how TCFA’s partnership with NCBA is crucial to successfully navigate policy changes in the future.
Karl Rove and Jim Messina followed and spoke about how new-day media effects today’s politics. An expert consumer panel moderated by Shalene McNeill addressed red meat in a healthy diet in conjunction with nutrition improvement and weight management.
Miss Texas 2019 Chandler Foreman presented awards during the annual TCFA award lunch. That evening, the Lindsey Lane Band kicked off the Cattle Feeders Get Together. The successful BEEF-PAC live auction was a highlight of the evening followed by the announcement of the first Sweepstakes winner.
Tuesday’s Closing General Session covered everything from demographics and politics to an entertaining perspective on perfecting your skill for the greater good of a team. Ken Gronbach discussed how demographics impact America’s buying decisions and political choices, and Kenny Aronoff closed the session with an exciting and interesting view of individual perfection.
Thank you to everyone for attending and making the 2019 Convention a huge success. Mark your calendars for the 2020 Convention, October 4-6 in Grapevine. To see pictures from TCFA Convention, visit our Facebook or Instagram (@txcattlefeeders).
For a chance to win a new TCFA cap, take this short survey.
Getting from There to Here
For Paul Defoor, the 2020 TCFA Chairman, the cattle business is a life-long passion.
“I never seriously considered doing much else outside of working with cattle and horses,” he says.
That resolve for the cattle industry goes back to his childhood. Growing up in southeast Texas, he spent his days either working with horses and cattle or alongside his dad and grandad at the sale barn.
“I would watch calves being loaded onto trucks at the sale barns when I was a kid and wonder where they would end up,” he says. “Probably somewhere up on the High Plains where everything, it seemed to me, was bigger and better.”
Defoor’s upbringing instilled in him a love for taking care of cattle. He is quick to credit both his dad and grandad for making sure he had the skills and experience to follow that passion.
Upon graduating high school, Defoor took some basic college courses at Sam Houston State University. He spent that year roping and shoeing horses, but it wasn’t long before he made the trip out West.
“The following year I loaded up my head horse, moved to Lubbock, and began studying animal science at Texas Tech University.”
While at Tech, Defoor worked at area feedyards, took care of wheat pasture cattle and continued to shoe horses.
“It made more money in the shortest period of time working than anything else a college kid with my background could do,” he says.
While at Tech, Defoor became acquainted with a couple of feedyard nutritionists. “Their work fascinated me and really encompassed many of the things I loved,” he says.
Defoor went on to graduate first in his class at Tech, and then on to West Texas A&M where he earned a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition and later, an MBA. He returned to Tech to complete a Ph.D. in ruminant nutrition working under Dr. Mike Galyean.
“Dr. Galyean, who is now the Provost at Texas Tech, was a great mentor and is a great friend. He really shaped the way I think and the way I approach data,” Defoor says.
Much of Defoor’s graduate work involved studying the interchangeability of roughage sources in feedyard rations — a topic that would play a major role in how feedyards would adapt to the most severe drought on record in the High Plains over a decade later.
“The cattle I used in my doctoral studies were provided by Cactus Feeders,” he recalls. “That allowed me to get to know Cactus a little better — a connection I relished, and one from which I would later benefit immensely.”
The Cactus Call
The years that followed Defoor’s doctoral studies were filled with opportunities. He spent time as a professor, a technical services manager for a pharmaceutical company, and a nutritionist for several great feedyards on the High Plains.
The opportunity with Cactus came in 2005 when he was doing some business analytics work for them on a project with beta agonists — a topic that framed his early years at Cactus as they hired him full time.
“It didn’t take much thought to drop everything and go to Cactus full time,” he says. “They were, and still are, the epitome of the High Plains cattle feeding culture, and the Engler family offered something that had remained elusive to me — ownership in a feedyard.”
“Not just one in this case but 10 yards feeding over a million head per year and the brand and culture that went along with it,” Defoor says. “This was where I wanted to be.”
In 2000, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association named Cactus the “Cattle Business of the Century.” Additionally, the organization was complete with the largest beef cattle research operation in the world.
“Cactus Research is the industry leader in beef production science and has influenced many of our business decisions over the years,” he says.
“I had several great mentors in my early years at Cactus. Paul Engler and Jack Rhoades were major influencers, and I still draw on many of their lessons,” he recalls. “They represented one side of my passion and romance for this business, while Dr. Mike Engler and Dr. Spencer Swingle, both scientists of the highest caliber, represented the other.”
Early in his career, Defoor led the organization’s efforts to integrate research and business analytics for several years before being promoted to Chief Operating Officer, and later to Co-CEO and a member of its board of directors.
In these roles, Defoor has had the privilege of hiring, placing, or helping develop some of the best cattle talent in the industry.
“Cactus employees are cattle and customer focused both on and off the feedyard,” he says.
Having customer-focused employees is key to Cactus’ success.
“Our cattle feeding customers are the core of our business,” Defoor says. “Our identity is wrapped up in them and always has been. Our roots are in custom cattle feeding, and our future is there as well.”
A saying around Cactus is “The Cattle Come First” meaning caring for cattle comes before our comfort and rest. Another saying is, “It takes more than concrete and steel to build a feedyard,” meaning the operation only works when you have the right people, Defoor explains.
“These things (Customer Focus, Cattle Care, Right People) are the foundations of our culture, and that has not changed,” he says.
What has changed is the amount of time and energy the organization spends in self-evaluation of various aspects of their business.
Cactus Research plays a major role in that process on topics such as antibiotic resistance, greenhouse gas production, animal wellbeing and several others. This research routinely influences many organization and industry positions.
“The confidence I have from our research efforts allows me to state strongly to anyone that U.S. beef producers can be proud of this business and the beef they produce,” he says. “We are part of the solution for the environment and a growing world population.
“However, we can’t be content to sustain. We must advance and continue to improve. That’s what got us here,” he says.
Defoor first became involved with TCFA after he received a scholarship from the group’s education foundation. In later years he served on the TCFA Research Committee, and as he moved up in leadership at Cactus, he began serving on the TCFA board of directors and then the executive committee.
When I ask what the biggest challenges are for the cattle feeding industry, he answers boldly.
“We are blessed in this country with the highest standards of living that have ever been experienced by any society. We must be students of how we achieved that if we are to keep it and keep improving it.”
Defoor points out that the industry must continue to make strong, simple and direct rebuttals to myths about beef production.
“Take for example, the concerns about greenhouse gas emissions,” he says. “The simple truth is that cattle merely return carbon to the atmosphere where it originated literally only months prior. There is no ‘net new’ carbon emitted by cattle into the atmosphere. Cattle, plants, and carbon are in a healthy, steady-state, long-term relationship with one another, and we humans are the benefactors. It is just that simple.”
“Industry associations such as TCFA are critical in dispelling misconceptions and bringing to bear the full collective resolve of its members around these basic truths,” he says. “We must ensure that the political process and its outcomes reflect those realities.”
While the industry must continue to advocate about current issues including atmospheric carbon, alternative proteins, trade, and technologies that affect efficiency, Defoor says, we must also focus on the viability of the Texas cattle feeding region over the long haul and provide leadership in critical areas that will contribute to that future.
“Farming choices and water use will be among the most critical of factors,” he says. “There is tremendous untapped potential to further integrate farming and grazing in the region to create greater returns per acre for landowners while drawing more cattle to the region to graze.”
“We can do this while also allowing for a material recharge of the groundwater that is so critical to our future.”
Undoubtedly, his analytical skills and passion for the industry and the region will serve Defoor well as he embarks on his position as TCFA Chairman.
“To say Paul Defoor loves what he does would be a vast understatement,” says Ross Wilson, TCFA president & CEO. “He is a big picture thinker, who can also distill complex, scientific issues and communicate them in a way that people, not only understand, but also relate to.”
At the highest level, Defoor’s life’s work is centered on improving standards of living through advancements in food production. He has dedicated years to the science of cattle nutrition and producing food for a growing population. There is no questioning his commitment to the industry and region he loves.
However, spend time with him, and you’ll see that the scientist is also a husband, father and true cowboy who has a deep connection and relentless focus on the cattle, the success of his customers, and making beef accessible to families all over the world.
During a TCFA safety training at a feedyard, an employee motioned Gordon Moore to lean in so he could tell him about a frightening situation he experienced. The employee described an incident where his front-end loader bucket was caught in a powerline. He tapped his head signaling to Moore that he remembered the training when he and his crew learned about electrical safety from him a few years back prior to the incident. And how that training had kept him safe until he could call for help.
“That training was on electrical safety and what employees should do if they ever found themselves caught between a live wire and an electrical conductor. We specifically talked about equipment and powerlines,” Moore said. “Thankfully, it stuck.”
Those stories are not uncommon, said Moore, who has more than 30 years of feedyard and safety training experience. But accidents happen less when feedyard employees are better trained, he said.
Gordon Moore, of Moore Ag Safety, has collaborated with TCFA for the past 8 years serving as the association’s lead feedyard employee safety consultant and trainer for the TCFA Safety Services Program. In that role Moore has conducted tens of thousands of onsite safety training courses on feedyards across Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
“TCFA’s safety program is unlike any of its kind,” he said. “We have onsite tools that we use to train feedyard employees on safe working conditions right on the feedyard where they work.”
TCFA’s feedyard employee safety program started in the 1980s with routine feedyard safety inspections and a comprehensive safety review and policy book for TCFA feedyard members.
However, in 2004, TCFA feedyard members came to the association needing a more robust program. That discussion led to the official development of the TCFA Safety Services Program. The new program included routine safety inspections and reviews as well as an enhanced safety policy book that was more adaptable and accessible. This allowed individual feedyards to create their own book of site-specific policies. The program also included something unlike any other feedyard employee safety program, onsite training.
“This was a game changer for feedyard safety,” said Shane Guest, manager of Wheeler Land & Livestock. “Employee safety is our number one priority, but it is near impossible to shut down a feedyard so your staff can travel to a safety training. Cattle must be fed and taken care of daily.”
“To have a program that will come to the yard and do a full day of hands-on training for all employees is simply invaluable,” he continued.
Later, as the program grew, TCFA created a portable training center — what is known around the feedyards as the TCFA Safety Trailer. The trailer meets all OSHA requirements for safety, but more importantly, Guest said, it gives employees a better hands-on learning experience and fosters trust across all levels of feedyard employees.
“Not only does the trailer provide an enhanced learning experience for each employee,” Moore said. “Employees build rapport with management, their colleagues and even me. This allows for constant communication about safety, why it’s important, and how to continuously improve upon it.”
The Amarillo area beef and dairy communities presented a check for $163,600 to the Snack Pak 4 Kids Program (SP4K). The money will provide 218,000 beef sticks to hungry students through the Snack Pak weekend hunger program. The check was presented at the first Beef 4 Kids Golf Classic (B4K), an event coordinated and led by TCFA.
“When agriculture sees a need, they go and find a way to fill it,” said Dyron Howell, founder of SP4K. “There is so much negative talk about agriculture, especially about the beef and dairy industries, but what isn’t talked about enough is the commitment these industries have to serving their communities.”
Howell said that, because the beef community saw a need and decided to address it, at-risk kids in the Texas Panhandle will now have access to 68 grams of beef and dairy protein each weekend.
“This is protein these children would not have access to otherwise,” Howell said.
The SP4K Beef Stik Program launched in October 2017 during the TCFA Convention. The program was designed to provide more protein to kids in need and allows consumers to purchase Snack Pak Beef Stiks online or in convenience stores with every purchased stick providing an additional stick to a child in need.
The BOGO program combined with the money raised through the B4K tournament will provide two beef sticks for every kid at no additional cost.
“This was our goal and vision when we started this project four years ago, but now this is a reality,” Howell said. “When we first started, kids would get about 10-12 grams of protein in their bags each weekend, which is woefully inadequate. Today, kids are getting 68 grams of protein in their bags.”
Beef provides ten essential nutrients and vitamins, including protein, zinc and iron — three key nutrients that are essential for proper growth and development of children. The SP4K Beef Stik is made of 100% chuck roast and brisket, making it the most premium beef stick on the market.
How you can contribute:
TCFA would like to congratulate XIT Feeders on winning the tournament with a score of 54. A big thanks to all of the sponsors and golfers who made this event possible. Major sponsoring organizations include Cactus Feeders, Cargill, Nutra Blend, Caviness Beef Packers, Champion Feeders, Hi-Pro Feeds, Jax Transportation, Micro Technologies, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Tyson Foods, Baptist Community Services, Family Medical Center, Friona Industries and Kemin Industries.
See coverage of the event from the Amarillo Globe News, Beef Magazine and KAMR.
The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB), a full beef stakeholder initiative focused on continuous improvement, officially recognized the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) suite of feedyard services and programs as aligning with the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework.
“TCFA feedyards are the envy of the world in terms of efficiently converting grains and by-products into protein,” said Levi Berry, feedyard general manager and TCFA Chairman. “Over the last several decades, as an industry, we have consistently produced more beef with less cattle, used fewer overall inputs, implemented environmental management practices and strived to provide a safe workplace for our employees. This is the very definition of sustainability in action. TCFA feedyards have a great story to tell.”
TCFA’s suite of feedyard programs consist of three main areas; employee safety, environmental services; and Beef Quality Assurance. The programs and services are implemented in partnership with TCFA feedyard members.
In order to be recognized as aligning with the USRSB Framework, TCFA’s programs were required to demonstrate alignment with six key areas:
For example, TCFA feedyard members who utilize TCFA’s environmental services program align with the Framework’s water resources, land resources and air and greenhouse gas emission indicators. TCFA’s program includes environmental training, site audits, and soil, water and manure sampling.
Additionally, the environmental services program helps feedyards develop sound Pollution Prevention Plans and Nutrient Management Plans.
The programs underwent an evaluation by an independent third-party in order to demonstrate incorporation of U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework criteria. The alignment claim is applicable for three years, at which time TCFA would reapply to keep recognition status.
“The USRSB Framework is new, but TCFA members have focused on improvements in these areas for years,” said Berry. “Now, because TCFA’s programs have been recognized, TCFA feedyard members can highlight their efforts in all of these areas under the larger umbrella of sustainability — something consumers want from producers.”
For more information on the USRSB Recognition Program, visit www.usrsb.org.
Students from across the state made their way to the campus of West Texas A&M University on Friday, July 26, to showcase their skills and knowledge at the 2019 TCFA Junior Fed Beef Challenge.
This annual contest gives third-12th grade students the opportunity to gain industry knowledge and practical experience in commercial cattle feeding. Students feed a pen of three steers, take a written test and compete in interviews and oral presentations. Cattle performance points are also figured into the score to determine the winners.
Students compete for a combined $20,000 in college scholarships along with trophy buckles and plaques.
The Senior Overall Champion of the contest and winner of a $5,000 scholarship was Leroy Stavinoha of Eagle Lake. Senior Reserve Champion and winner of a $3,000 scholarship was Will Hauerland of Columbus. The First Runner-Up and winner of a $2,000 scholarship was Macy Lawrence of Canyon.
In the Junior Division, Kade Lawrence was named the Overall Champion and received a $350 scholarship.
Senior Division: Best Written Exam
3rd Place Written Exam – Luke Bludau
2nd Place Written Exam – Emily Heitschmidt
1st Place Exam and winner of a $500 prize – Leroy Stavinoha
Senior Division: Best Interview
3rd Place Interview – J’Cee Faith Petty
2nd Place Interview – Clayton Stevenson
Best Interview and winner of a $500 prize – Macy Lawrence
Senior Division: Best Individual Carcass
3rd Place Individual Carcass – Lane Golla, Will Hauerland, Leroy Stavinoha, Annemarie Metzler, J’Cee Faith Petty, Justin Schumacher, David Schoenemann and Kady Weatherford
2nd Place Individual Carcass – Shelby Berckenhoff and Luke Bludau
Top Individual Carcass and winner of a $500 prize – Winston Stevenson
Senior Division: Best Pen Steer Points
3rd Place Carcass Pen – Annemarie Metzler
2nd Place Carcass Pen – J’Cee Faith Petty and Justin Schumacher
Top Carcass Pen and winner of a $500 prize – Winston Stevenson
Senior Division: Top Rookie Award
3rd Place Rookie – Edwin Alexander Valicek
2nd Place Rookie – Annemarie Metzler
Top Rookie and winner of a $500 prize – J’Cee Faith Petty
Junior Division: Best Written Exam
3rd Place Written Exam – Kade Lawrence
2nd Place Written Exam – Kilian Leheska
1st Place Exam and winner of a $250 prize – Grant Kubala
Junior Division: Best Presentation
3rd Place Presentation – Emma Stevenson, Grant Kubala, Hope Gleghorn
2nd Place Presentation – Brett Heitschmidt
Best Presentation and winner of a $250 prize – Kade Lawrence
Junior Division: Best Individual Carcass
3rd Place Individual Carcass – Cydney Kirkland and Samantha Unruh
2nd Place Individual Carcass – Alexandra Kelley and Ty Rogers
Top Individual Carcass and winner of a $250 prize – Jake Ressler
Junior Division: Best Pen Steer Points
3rd Place Carcass Pen – Cydney Kirkland
2nd Place Carcass Pen – Alexandra Kelley
Top Carcass Pen and winner of a $250 prize – Ty Rogers
Junior Division: Top Rookie Award
2nd Place Rookie – Samantha Unruh
Top Rookie and winner of a $250 prize – Reese Wilson
TCFA sent an independent letter to the Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma congressional delegations this week calling for the swift ratification of the United States, Mexico and Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA).
“Texas leads the nation in both cow-calf production and fed cattle production, so developing and maintaining strong foreign markets for U.S. beef greatly benefits the industry and the state’s economy,” the letter sent to Texas members said. “For over 25 years, the cattle/beef industry has benefited from unrestricted, duty-free access to Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In 2018, U.S. beef exports to Mexico and Canada totaled $1.8 billion, accounting for an additional $70 per head and providing value throughout the production chain.”
The letter goes on to state that NAFTA has been one of the greatest success stories in the history of U.S. agriculture (especially U.S. beef) and calls on Congress ratify the new agreement.
What's more, farmers and ranchers need the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement to be approved by Congress now. That is the message Levi Berry, TCFA chairman; Russel Boening, Texas Farm Bureau president; and Bobby McKnight, TSCRA president, wrote in an op-ed that ran in the San Antonio Express News on Friday.
The letter stresses the positive impact the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has had on the Texas economy, and points out how our state’s economy, particularly as it pertains to agriculture, will suffer without a trade agreement with both Canada and Mexico.
“Texas agriculture has flourished under sound trade policies. Unfortunately, these successful policies are at risk, and that alarms Texas farmers and ranchers,” the group wrote. “Congress has the power to help. Ratifying the USMCA would provide a much-needed boost to Texas agriculture and would benefit our rural communities that depend on exports to Canada and Mexico for economic success.”
Since NAFTA’s enactment in 1994, U.S. agricultural exports worldwide climbed from $46 billion to $139.6 billion in 2018 — a 202% increase. During that same period, U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada grew from $10 billion to $39.7 billion per year — a 297% increase.
In Texas, economic activity related to agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada account for more than $3.7 billion and 22,972 jobs. USMCA seeks to build upon NAFTA’s success. And, while USMCA was signed in November 2018, the group points out that all three countries must ratify the agreement in their legislative bodies before it can take effect.
Meanwhile, TCFA along with NCBA and 38 state affiliate organizations sent a letter to Congress asking for quick approval on USMCA. NCBA delivered the letter this week to the four top congressional leaders urging swift ratification, emphasizing that exports of U.S. beef to Canada and Mexico totaled $1.8 billion in 2018 and added $70 in value per head.
In the letter, the groups also strongly encouraged congressional leaders to oppose efforts to reinstate mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL), which was repealed by Congress in 2015 and cost the U.S. beef industry hundreds of millions of dollars to implement with no benefit.