The recent Summer Conference of the Illinois Beef
Association brought cattlemen together from all parts of the state. The
three-day event was held at Rend Lake Resort, near Whittington, and it featured
a variety of opportunities for IBA members, including educational discussions
and visits to cattlemen’s operations.
Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for the
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, provided the IBA members with an update
on a variety of issues impacting their businesses. He opened his remarks by
discussing the failure of the House of Representatives to pass a new farm bill.
To pass this bill, Woodall noted, it needed 218 votes.
However, only 195 representatives voted in favor of the farm bill.
“We were surprised,” Woodall said. “That was the first time
a farm bill has ever failed to pass the House of Representatives.”
The NCBA spokesman provided three options for farm bill —
dust off the legislation and try to find a compromise, extend the current farm
bill for six more months or allow the farm bill to expire and go back to the
Permanent Agricultural Law of 1949.
The most likely of those three options, according to
Woodall, is a six-month extension of the current farm bill.
“That’s the easy one, and most people under the 2008
programs are OK with that, except dairy producers,” he said.
By extending the 2008 farm bill for another six months, that
would take it to February.
“That timeframe is critical because by the end of February,
the focus in Washington, D.C., shifts towards mid-term elections in November,”
He also provided some insight to the immigration reform
currently in progress by the members of the Senate and the House.
“We’ve got to secure the border with Mexico. This is a huge
problem,” he stressed. “The majority of the land along the border of Mexico is
owned by farmers and ranchers, and they are on the front lines of the drug
traffic coming across the border.”
Woodall talked about a variety of problems, including cut
fences, destroyed water supplies, stolen items, including vehicles, and even one
cattleman who was killed on his own ranch. An amendment passed in the Senate
proposal includes the addition of 20,000 border patrol agents.
“We’re happy about the attention to border security,”
“We also have to make sure we have access to a legal
workforce because packing plants, feedyards and a lot of people depend on
immigrant labor,” he added. “We are working for a guest worker program that
allows them to come for an extended period of time. We think by the end of the
year we’ll have immigration reform.”
During the IBA annual meeting, Alan Adams, a cattleman from
Sandwich, was elected president of the group, and Mike Martz, a partner in
Larson Farms, near Maple Park, will serve as the IBA vice president.
Creal Springs cattleman Jeff Beasley completed his two-year
term as the IBA president at the meeting. During his comments, he highlighted
several goals he set as the president, including improving communications,
building relationships with state and national legislators and increasing the
involvement of cattlemen in the Beef Quality Assurance Program.
Beasley stressed that he enjoyed the time he spent leading
the IBA, and he thanked the members of the organization for giving him the
“This has been a great experience,” he said. “And I thank
each and every one of you for your support of IBA and I over the last couple of
In concluding his remarks, Beasley said that, even though he
completed his term as president, he plans to remain an active IBA member. From
working with Beasley over the past several years, that’s exactly what I would
expect him to do.