Eight students of Penn State’s Department of Animal Science Advanced Beef Production course traveled to our nation’s capital to speak with industry representatives and meet with legislators and their staff, Sept. 27th- 29th. The intense two-day trip was designed to help students understand the issues within the beef industry and observe the legislative process as they met with congressional delegations to explain the issues.
Traveling with Dan Kniffen, Ph.D., course professor and Ann Nogan, Executive Vice President of the PA Center for Beef Excellence, the group first visited the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) headquarters where they received briefings about various issues surrounding the beef industry.
Officials from USDA gave background information on oversight of industry checkoff programs and their audit process for agricultural marketing programs; the new Veterinary Feed Directive; and an understanding of Hoof and Mouth (FMD) disease and planned industry response strategies to potential trade with foreign countries where FMD is endemic.
Colin Woodall, Senior Vice President of NCBA Legislative Affairs, gave background to students on the important legislative issues that they should discuss in their Congressional visits. The issues included the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), perceived regulatory overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, review of the dietary guidelines, USDA Final Rule on Import of Brazil and Argentina Beef, transportation, trade, and renewal of the stepped up Tax and Depreciation schedule.
Students spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill, briefing Congressmen and their staff on the legislative issues that were presented the previous day so they are better prepared to make educated decisions on agricultural issues. Eight Congressional offices were visited along with both Pennsylvania Senators.
Kniffen said, “The Washington trip is important to give the students returned a better understanding of how Capitol Hill works and more understanding of the important issues facing the beef industry today. It is a valuable part of the course.” He said the course encourages students to work on problem-solving and issue management studying current issues and offering recommendations for action.
All the students were juniors or seniors who plan to have careers in agriculture, beginning with production agriculture, to exploring research opportunities, to practicing veterinary medicine or working with allied industry. All the students had a background in basic beef production.
Travel was made possible through a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture grant awarded to the Beef Stakeholder Collaboration Team. Without such support, travel for this class would not be possible. A Sunday afternoon arrival in Washington gave the students an opportunity to take a walking tour of the national monuments.