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,” Woodall noted.

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,” Woodall said.

“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 opportunity.

“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 years.”

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.