Hundreds of hours of planning go into the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting every year.
But planning in 2020, that number increased significantly.
“We’ve worked on this for several months,” says Cora Fox, director of government relations for ICA. “We solicit feedback throughout the year, so by the time we get to our meeting, we have a good idea of what our members are thinking.
“The past year presented many challenges for Iowa’s beef cattle industry. Members ‘took the bull by the horns’ and acted decisively to respond to market disruption, the derecho, drought conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This year’s meeting was held virtually on Jan. 26, with adopting policy as the primary focus.
Fox says over the course of seven weeks, more than 300 producer members participated in the formal policy development process. ICA hosted two virtual meetings for the Beef Products, Business Issues and Cattle Production committees.
She says members reviewed expiring resolutions, drafted amendments and proposed new resolutions. Grassroots recommendations, determined by members, were presented and ratified during the annual meeting. Overall, members reviewed more than 30 resolutions that will guide ICA’s work at the local, state and federal levels.
Fox says there were several policy changes. One of those deals with Mandatory Country of Labeling (MCOOL).
“We established a task force in 2019, and this year we reinstated the directive with some amendments,” she says.
The task force will continue work throughout 2021, with its named changed to the Beef Labeling Task Force. Fox says this broadens the discussion to include any potential beef labeling issues.
ICA affirms the importance of engaging on this policy issue by dedicating specific time at each regularly scheduled board meeting for reports from the Beef Labeling Task Force, she says.
Another policy deals with COVID-19 and essential workers. Fox says ICA is requesting that elected officials place a priority on the health of ag processing workers and take steps that ensure these facilities remain open.
Price discovery was another lengthy topic of discussion, Fox says. ICA implemented interim policy last spring which allowed them to lead efforts to build support for the Grassley-Tester 50/14 legislation.
The new policy also directs ICA to work to require packers in all major cattle feeding regions “to purchase at least 50% of their cattle through negotiated cash trade at the plant level, with a 14-day delivery period.”
Fox says while the past year has been challenging, she appreciates the willingness of ICA membership to adapt and participate in the virtual discussions and meeting.