The National Cattlemen's Beef Association welcomes you to "Beltway Beef." Initiated in 1898, NCBA is the oldest and largest national marketing organization and trade association dedicated solely to U.S. cattlemen and women. With offices in Washington, D.C., and Denver, NCBA is a producer driven organization representing the largest segment of the nation's food and fiber industry. "Beltway Beef" was created to serve as a sounding board for the U.S. beef industry. Decisions are made in Washington, D.C., directly impacting the cattle business. Our goal is to get the word out and we need your help. We encourage you to comment on the postings, ask questions and share with your friends. Posts on "Beltway Beef" are produced by NCBA staff and invited guests. Feel free to contact the bloggers at or

January 20, 2015

Beltway Beef Commentary: Key Priorities for Cattle Producers

Colin Woodall, Vice President of Government Affairs, lays out some key priorities for cattle producers this legislative session.

Dietary Guidelines Committee Verbalizes Move to Limit Lean Meats

When the meetings of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee began, they started with the premise from prior years, that “common characteristics of dietary patterns associated with positive health outcomes include: higher intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish/seafood, legumes, lean meat, and nuts.”

However, at the last and final meeting of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in December, the committee made the unprecedented move of striking “lean meat” from the pattern associated with a healthy diet, implying a plant-based diet. This is a major departure, not only from the past guidelines, but from more than 30 years of nutritionally-accepted science and peer-reviewed studies.

Despite recent media coverage, it is important to remember that the Committee’s final report has not yet been publically released. We expect the Committee to release their report to the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Agriculture in late January or early February. At that time, the Secretaries will have the opportunity to review the recommendations and request input and comments.

Following that, the recommendations will then be published in the Federal Register, with a comment period. Throughout this entire process, NCBA will continue to be engaged on behalf of our members.

January 7, 2015

Beltway Beef Commentary: Year in Review featuring Craig Uden

Craig Uden, NCBA Policy Division Chairman and Nebraska cattleman, talks about the past year for cattle producers.

December 5, 2014

Don’t Politicize Producer’s Checkoff

By NCBA President Bob McCan

Over my past year as President of the NCBA, I have had a rare opportunity to look at all sides of the beef industry. And I have come to realize, that much like our country, the cattle industry has individuals and organizations that differ on their views of government involvement. By and large, the members of the NCBA, the members who I have represented this year, want less government involvement. They don’t want the government to pick winners and losers. They don’t want the government to tell them how to market their cattle, they don’t want the government to market their beef, and they sure don’t want the government to run their research, education and promotion. The government is distant and ineffective when it comes to doing the work of private industry.

But there are also those who do want the government to do all these things and more. They aren’t all of one mind, but they sometimes feel at a disadvantage, they are a minority and the easiest way to tip the scales toward the minority, is if the government steps in and throws off the balance. This is nothing new; the government has been picking winners and losers since the very beginning. One of the very first cases ever to come before the Supreme Court was McCulloch v. Maryland, where the fourth Supreme Court Chief Justice, Justice Marshall wrote that “the power to tax was the power to destroy.”
The government power to tax, regulate and legislate is unparalleled in our economy. And now there are some that are looking to that authority to again tip the scales in their favor to fix what they perceive as an inequity. Their policy positions have fallen out of favor with the majority, they have been dealt one loss after another, and they cling to a system of production that no longer exists or is no longer practical. And like a wounded snake, they lash out at everything that moves, in the hopes they can latch on to something with their remaining venom. The problem is, that never solves the issue, it only hurts the industry.
The National Farmers Union and other groups oppose NCBA’s member passed policy. That is fine; there is always room for dissent in organized debate and our government system works on adversarial positions, where in the end the right outcome is found. But to bring your losses from the adversarial arena of policy and politics to the public arena of education is foul. Just because you lose, doesn’t mean the system is flawed, sometimes you’re just wrong.
Cattlemen and women nationwide, benefit from a Beef Checkoff that is non-partisan and non-political. A Beef Checkoff that is administered by boards of producers at the national and state levels and overseen by the USDA. A Beef Checkoff where national organizations that meet the most basic of requirements have a chance to submit their proposals for national funding.
So next time you hear someone throw stones, ask them if they have submitted a contract, if they have had an opportunity to submit a name for the Beef Board, if they have sat in on these meetings and given input.

The National Farmers Union was an active participant in meetings of several national organizations working to enhance the Beef Checkoff Program and when the groups had agreed on a concept to discuss with their respective boards on enhancing the Beef Checkoff, National Farmers Union pulled out. That doesn’t sound to me like they ever intended to reach a compromise. Fact is, the rhetoric from the National Farmers Union has been so inconsistent on this issue it’s impossible to determine what they want. One thing is clear; they want to get rid of the current Beef Checkoff that is supported by 78 percent of beef producers, because they mistakenly think it will humiliate the NCBA. You can disagree with our positions, you can deny our success, or you can join and craft policy engage in debate, but do not use a program that benefits everyone in the cattle industry as a political battering ram for your personal or professional gain.

November 6, 2014

The Dust is Settling

By NCBA President Bob McCan
With the elections on Tuesday now largely behind us, it looks like the landscape for cattlemen and women may have shifted in our favor. With both expected and unexpected victories and a few still up in air, one thing is apparent: your contributions to the NCBA PAC helped to shape this election and will keep our priorities in front of the new Congress. Building on the success of past cycles, the NCBA PAC set an ambitious goal of raising $1.25 million dollars this election cycle. And with nearly two months left in this cycle, we are very close to topping the $1 million mark. That is a major milestone and I would encourage you to make an NCBA PAC contribution yet this year.

Unchanged by the outcome of the elections, there is still work we need Congress to do in the current lame duck session. We know many in Congress see the need to clear the backlog and allow the 114th Congress to start with a clean slate. Specifically, we need this Congress to address key tax issues, including extending Section 179 expensing and bonus depreciation, with enough time left to allow producers to adequately plan for the tax year and make needed investments. We need Congress to grant the President Trade Promotion Authority, sending our trade partners a clear signal that we are serious about these agreements and we will act quickly to seize opportunities. We also need this Congress to send a clear signal to the USDA and the Administration, that producers do not want greater government involvement in their Beef Checkoff.

When the 114th Congress is seated in January, we expect for the first time in a number of years, they will be able to take up a number of legislative priorities that will help not only our industry, but business and commerce nationwide. Specifically, we are looking to the Hill to give much needed direction to the EPA on their misguided “waters of the United States” rule. We expect trade to remain top of mind, with hope that many pending trade agreements will see resolution. Congress has taken tax provisions piecemeal, addressing expiring provisions and kicking larger issues down the road. But long term stability and a pro-business tax code is desperately needed to address current issues and spur real economic growth. We all know how important sound and viable interstate transportation and international hubs are to our ability to bring cattle and beef to market and sustain our ever increasing export markets. We need Congress to address outdated transportation laws and put in place rules that encourage safe and efficient transportation.

We look forward to working with this Congress to address key issues before the end of the year and we look forward to working with the next Congress, educating new members on the cattle industry and tackling legislatives issues that will encourage growth and innovation.