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Dennis Sun: Ranchers And Farmers Keep Getting The Short Of The Stick

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

This is usually the time of the year where livestock producers and farmers sell their products and bring in most of the year’s revenue, and as many know, supply and demand rule the prices farmers and ranchers receive.

This year, ag producers are getting hit hard by rising costs brought on by bad policies from Washington, D.C. Besides the ballot box, the next best avenue to combat bad policies from Washington, D.C. is to have ag producers tell their story supported by strong lobbying. The hang up is lobbying requires dollars, and when dollars are short, ag producers need to be selective on where those dollars go.

We all donate to charities and non-profits – it’s what we do in Wyoming and the surrounding region, as we take pride in giving.

We are at a time where policies in Washington, D.C. already are or will hurt agriculture and energy, especially in the West. These bad policies are affecting not only western America’s way of life, but every business’ profits. Remember, out of these profits come the donations to churches and non-profits.

I feel in times like these, when we are sitting down with family or business associates to decide where we want our yearly donations to go, we should remember those groups and organizations which help us stay in business either by lobbying, keeping us in the know or facilitating ways for us to interact with policymakers.

These groups would be the national and state livestock and crop organizations who are lobbying on our behalf in Washington, D.C. or our state capitals. These organizations rely on our membership and support to keep their doors open and to keep staff in our nation’s and states’ capitals to tell our story, as well as assist legislators and government officials with legislation and policies.

We need these people assisting us now more than ever as public lands, environmental and natural resource and livestock issues are all changing for the worst. If our agriculture and energy businesses are not able to function and make a profit, it is going to make it a lot harder for people to donate to any non-profit or cause.

In looking around in our region, ag- or energy-related businesses suffering from these bad policies are usually the ones, who in the past, have supported our communities the most. They are now at risk. From hospitals and colleges to community facilities, these businesses, owners and employees always stepped up and helped when needed.

These organizations who represent us in agriculture, energy, public lands and other related businesses are staffed by very competent people. It takes dollars for them to assist us by helping those in Congress, national and state officials and legislators who make policies that support us.

We have to stop bad policies, such as high taxes to pay for unneeded social programs, restrictions on drilling and other energy issues, more regulations of our waters and limiting the uses of our public lands.

People in power need to realize our churches, non-profits and other causes always do well when the business climate is good. The good business climate also provides good jobs, which helps to provide support for those in need.

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.  

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Dennis Sun: Be Careful, This Administration Gives . . . And It Takes

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Late last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was asking for comments on their latest announcement of a $3 billion investment in agriculture, school nutrition and animal health, along with a new climate partnership initiative and opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices.

In the introduction, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “American agriculture currently faces unprecedented challenges on multiple fronts.” 

Well, he is correct on this statement, and a number of ag producers would place the current administration as one of those challenges. But, we need to hear the secretary out and hopefully find some opportunities in the initiative.

This $3 billion in investments will fund a number of programs, including preventing the spread of African swine fever, assisting producers facing drought and market disruptions and helping school nutrition programs. A total of $500 million will be spent to support drought recovery and to encourage the adoption of water-smart management practices.

This assistance will target the challenges of the current drought and will also enable USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation agency to deliver much needed relief and design drought efforts in response to the magnitude of this crisis.

Up to $500 million will be earmarked to prevent the spread of African swine fever by developing a robust expansion and coordination of monitoring, surveillance, prevention, quarantine and eradication activities through USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. I hope there are also comments on strengthening foot and mouth disease prevention along the Mexican border.

In addition, the investment includes $500 million to provide relief from agricultural market disruption, such as increased transportation challenges, availability and cost of certain materials and other near-term obstacles related to the marketing and distribution of certain commodities.

The biggest program is to spend up to $1.5 billion to provide assistance to help schools respond to supply chain disruptions. The initiative builds on the range of work USDA has been doing to identify ongoing issues school districts face during this difficult time and provide the resources, tools and flexibility they need to serve students healthy and nutritious meals.

The announcement also said USDA is committed to partnering with agriculture, forestry and rural communities to develop climate solutions that strengthen rural America.

Secretary Vilsack said, “Through extreme weather, drought and fire, our agriculture producers are on the frontlines of climate change. The new Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative will support pilots that create new market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices and position U.S. farmers and ranchers and forest landowners as leaders in addressing climate change.”

All of these initiatives raise some important questions. Will these programs really work? Will it affect climate change – whatever that is these days – or will it turn out to just be another expensive social program? We like what we see with cattle pricing and packer pricing transparency with the mandatory price reporting. What role will Congress play in this initiative and can the administration keep social programs from tagging on to anything new?

With the issues of estate planning, stepped-up land values and larger taxes, to name a few, agriculture is a little skeptical these days. Not knowing what the 30×30 plan is totally about, along with increasing the size of national monuments in Utah last week, has producers a little head-shy and hoping for opportunities.

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Dennis Sun: It’s Fall At Last

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

I’ve been waiting for fall all summer. It is my favorite time of the year and I’m not a hot weather person. This year, we’ve had around six months of summer. They say the weather always balances out and I sure hope it is easy on us in the coming months.

While the calf markets have been going sideways or dropping a little lately, one can find some positives out there and some of those positives are pretty strong. 

To the average rancher or farmer, rising land prices are usually not a good occurrence, but I feel they are a good indicator for the health of the industry. If those who are buying land as an investment think land is a safe buy, this should help at the bank.

The demand for productive agricultural land nationwide has ballooned over the last couple of years. In essence, what landowners have, others want also. The result is real estate values for pastureland, cropland and farmland has increased across the nation. 

According to the National Agricultural Statistical Survey (NASS) Land Values 2021 Summary, farm real estate values – a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on U.S. farms – averaged $3,380 per acre for 2021. This is up $220 per acre or 7.8 percent. 

Rangeland, the largest component from an acreage standpoint of the three, jumped 5.7 percent. The average value of an acre of pastureland is at $1,480 per acre, an increase of $80 per acre. This figure would be straight pastureland without any recreational values. 

Some of the reasons for the rising prices are government programs enacted in response to both the pandemic and the trade war with China, which have benefited farmers and other landowners.

Another positive for cattle producers is the rising value of the cattle by-products. The hide and offal have really jumped in recent months. 

Steer hide and offal values have risen from around $6.93 per hundredweight (cwt) on a live fed steer basis in July 2020 to an Oct. 1, 2021 value of $15.44 per cwt, an increase of close to 120 percent. This increase is led by hide values brought on by demand for leather car seats, for edible and inedible tallow and other by-products like tongues, livers, hearts, cheeks, tripe and meat scrapes. These minor items add another 9.3 percent to the total by-product values and are mostly exported. It all adds up. 

Finally, the smart consumers at grocery stores are realizing fake meat products are not the solution to climate change. Those who view climate change as a major issue may have fallen for the mistaken reasoning that alternative proteins are a solution. Consumers, because of ranchers and farmers telling their story, are recognizing that in order to make real change, beef and lamb producers must be a part of the solution. 

“Every food has an impact, so simply changing from one to another will never be a productive solution,” says Chuck Coffey, a guest columnist in The Oklahoman. And now, the science is disputing the claims of the alternative protein companies as their false marketing doesn’t hold water. 

Have a great fall.

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.

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Dennis Sun: Despite Hype, It Might Be Awhile Before We Are Driving Electric Vehicles Out Here

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Over the last couple of years, some in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere have been preaching to us about the benefits of electric vehicles. It has gotten to the point many are thinking, “Maybe there is something to them.” Then again, after visiting with people who have them and have driven into Wyoming, it becomes a “Well, maybe not.”

Let’s face it, some day we’ll all be driving vehicles that are not powered by an internal combustion engine fueled by diesel or gasoline. We’ve had the big push to run our vehicles fueled by natural gas, but this push didn’t go far.

During the last election, we had a big push from politicians for electronic vehicles from manufacturers. It all sounded good in advertising and sound bites, but these days we’re not hearing a lot.

Reality has told us our region’s infrastructure is just not ready for electronic vehicles, and we had to learn the hard way. It looks like our infrastructure will not be ready for these vehicles for some time.

Those living in a big city or other highly populated areas are going to be OK. But, in reading a story about someone who drove from New York City to Boston – a 200-mile trip – panic set in when their battery dropped below 20 percent charged. The driver said he was “assured this might be one of the country’s easiest electronic vehicles routes, those assurances were misplaced.”

It does take a lot of electricity to charge an electric vehicle’s battery in a decent amount of time.  Standard home outlets generally deliver 120 volts – level one, and electric cooking stoves and clothes dryers take 240 volts – level two. Tesla has a “supercharger” which can fully charge the car in a little over an hour and runs on 480 volts – level three.

They say in a standard neighborhood, with the current electric infrastructure, only a couple of homes would be able to charge cars at the same time with 480 volts. In both Wyoming and throughout the region, a few hotels have electronic vehicle chargers, along with a number of truck stops.

In California, according to a study, roughly 20 percent of current owners have replaced their electronic vehicles with gasoline vehicles. The main reason the drivers made the switch was the inconvenience of charging the car. Of those who switched back, over 70 percent lacked access to level two connections at home and fewer than 70 percent lacked level two connections at work. One person noted, even with faster charging, a Chevy Bolt electronic vehicle he tested still needed nearly six hours of charging to go 300 miles from almost empty.

Looking at the list of electronic vehicles, it looks like the average miles before recharging ranges from 218 miles to 305 miles. This doesn’t cover a lot of distance in our region. 

General Motors has set a target of an all-electric fleet by 2030, while Ford Motors recently unveiled its Lightning F-150 electric pickup and is prioritizing production of electric Mustangs over traditional gas Mustangs. 

The issue is not the cars themselves, but rather, getting the correct amount of electricity to the charging units. This is going to hold up the sales of electronic vehicles, especially in low-population areas. But, also in areas of high-population, it is going to take a lot of new infrastructure to meet the demands of numerous charging units.

If we stay with electronic vehicles, it is going to take some time to get to a majority of them on the road, but in time, we’ll get there. What we don’t know is, at what cost?

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.

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Dennis Sun: Support The Beef Checkoff Program – It Is Good For Wyoming

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

As fall shipping is underway, cattle producers will be writing checks to the Beef Checkoff. For every cow sold, the Beef Checkoff will collect $1, and of this dollar, up to half remains in Wyoming for local beef promotion, research and education programming administered by the Wyoming Beef Council. The other half goes to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) for the same reasons. Both entities are made up of cattle producers.

            The Beef Checkoff was created under the 1985 Farm Bill. At the time, consumers were starting to replace beef on the dinner table with chicken and pork. Chicken and pork products were being marketed and beef was not, thus, cattle producers and processors had to come up with a marketing plan to promote beef.

            In today’s world, beef products are no different from any other consumer products. In order to be competitive and sell their product, producers have to make their product visible to consumers, promote the positives of their product and be willing to adapt to consumers’ wants and needs.

            “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” was a Beef Checkoff campaign introduced almost 31 years ago, and today it is still recognized by 88 percent of the public – now that is marketing.

            The Beef Checkoff has strict guidelines and regulations in program management. Each state’s Beef Council, the national Cattlemen’s Beef Board and all of the contractors are audited annually ensuring compliance with the Beef Promotion Act and Order.

All contractors who receive contracts for checkoff work are established, national nonprofit, industry-governed organizations and are under oversight by the CBB, both statewide and nationally. The contractors operate on a cost-recovery basis, meaning they must pay all program costs first and are then only reimbursed after all the above checks have been conducted.  Contractors never receive money up front. CBB’s and the state Beef Council’s own operations are overseen by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which must approve all budgets, board activities and contractor work.

This transparency and oversight adds creditability to the program. Our nation’s cattle producers, beef processors and beef importers all gain from the promotion of the programs. A lot of producers are not happy to have beef importers involved, but this is the way the program was set up, and each part of the industry pays their fair share.

            According to a Wyoming beef producer attitude survey, over 70 percent of Wyoming’s beef producers support the Beef Checkoff. National support is comparable.

            Consumers like the Beef Checkoff, too, as the checkoff provides consumers information on how to select cuts of meat, how to cook beef and explores health benefits of eating beef. Everyone likes ground beef and it is easy to cook in many ways. But, to have the consumer try other cuts of beef and have the confidence to cook different cuts, is the success of the Beef Checkoff.

            Over the years, the Beef Checkoff has been challenged, but their creditability has stood tall. One industry organization is currently challenging the checkoff, and I have never understood their reasoning.

This organization has never shown interest in becoming a contractor to help promote beef, as they should, because their members are beef producers. Is it because they don’t have the money, people and resources to pay up front or can’t stand up to the transparency and oversight required to be a part of the Beef Checkoff? Or, do they dislike organizations, such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a prime contractor with the CBB to promote the beef industry and use checkoff funds, and does so with the transparency and oversight required?

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.

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Dennis Sun: You Can’t Fool A Farmer All The Time

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Farmers, like others in the world of agriculture, are always positive. One has to be positive, but realistic in realizing negatives must also be managed.

This past week I was reading two recent farm reports for 2022. The first was the Net Farm Income Forecast and the other was a recent Agriculture Confidence Index Result. 

Both were more positive than the 2021 reports, but the farmers were worried about the cost of farming inputs. Input concerns are across the board in agriculture, especially these days. Another concern is future inflation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Net Farm Income Forecast was quite optimistic. The farm cash receipts are forecast to increase by $64.3 billion to $421.5 billion in 2021. Total crop receipts are forecast to increase by $37.9 billion from 2020 levels to $230.1 billion this year.

As we all realize, this figure reflects the growing demand of corn and soybeans bought by China. The forecast showed when corn and soybeans are combined, the forecast increased by $36.3 billion in 2021, accounting for most of the growth in crop cash receipts. The forecast for animal and animal products is expected to increase by $26.5 billion to $191.5 billion following increases in receipts in hogs, chickens and cattle. The forecast didn’t mention sheep, but with the higher prices of lambs, this forecast should be up, too.

The bad news, as expected, is total production expenses, including operator dwelling expenses, are forecast to increase by $26.1 billion to $383.5 billion. The report said nearly all categories of expenses are forecast to be higher in 2021, with feed, livestock and poultry purchases expected to see the largest dollar increases.

Farm sector equity is expected to increase by 2.9 percent to $2.81 trillion, a decline of 0.7 percent after adjusting for inflation. Let’s face it, inflation and taxes could be huge factors in the near future. Farm sector assets are forecast to increase 2.5 percent following the rise in farm real estate assets, but both are expected to fall when adjusted for inflation.

Farm sector debt is expected to be about the same as in 2020, but inflation will increase debt also. Real estate debt is expected to rise, but non-real estate debt is expected to fall – the first decline since 2012.

The DTN/Progressive Farmer Confidence Index is a survey taken three times each year in early spring before planting, in August ahead of harvesting and in late November, just prior to year-end tax season. In the latest, 500 farmers were surveyed by phone in the first two weeks of August. Index numbers above the baseline of 100 indicate optimism and scores below 100 indicate pessimistic views.

Farmers interviewed in August rated their present situation at 166.3, down 20 points from spring 2021, but up 119.4 from the record low of August 2020. Most farmers predicted their overall income and farm-based income would stay about the same. Forty-six percent of farmers expected input costs would be worse in the coming year with 16 percent projecting lower input costs. Livestock producers turned in an overall index of 124.2. They rated their present condition at 180.9, but their future expectations were only 99.1.

 Both farmers and agribusiness managers were more confident about the present, but lower for the future. I would guess politics has something to do with this.

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Dennis Sun: Ranchers And Farmers Need To Pay Attention To Wildlife Task Force

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Report

Around the first of the year, the Wyoming Wildlife Task Force (WWTF) was initiated by Gov. Mark Gordon. The charge of WWTF is to develop a list of topics to discuss and come up with solutions, changes and recommendations on policies and practices to the Wyoming Legislation, Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and the governor to support decisions made on Wyoming’s wildlife resources.

When discussing wildlife issues of Wyoming, there will are different answers from everyone, and answers will be emotional at times.

     The members of WWTF are a diverse group, as they should be. There were five landowners selected, and some members were selected based on their knowledge base, such as legislators. But, agriculture is sitting at the table and the group needs our support and comments on the issues.

As I understand it, most of the feedback has been coming from hunters who are concerned with license allocations, number of in state and out-of-state licenses and the process of drawing a license. The discussion is on the big five species – moose, goat, sheep, grizzly and bison, and there are concerns regarding hunting elk, deer and antelope as well.

 Ranchers and farmers, as landowners, need to be a part of the discussion with their comments. We are all impacted by both wildlife and hunters, and we have an opportunity to help make changes to some of the topics debated by WWTF such as landowner licenses, setting herd objectives and hunting access. 

 I mentioned access, as this was the number one topic under landowners’ section. “Access to and or via privately owned lands” is deemed important to hunters. While the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) has a great program to assist hunters with access, providing access to hunters is not important to all landowners.

 Throughout the years, landowners have heard from WGFD on the good job their stewardship does to provide habitat for the state’s wildlife. Landowners appreciate the positive comments, but “atta-boys” don’t pay the bills.

Landowners need incentives that help with cash income and there are ways to accomplish this so it doesn’t cost the state dollars. The landowner license program needs to have more flexibility so the approved landowner has more choices as to what they can do with the licenses. Both income or the ability to choose options would go a long way in improving relations with approved landowners.  

 If a landowner gets two licenses, it would be beneficial to let the landowner sell or donate one or both of those licenses. The landowner could donate the hunting license to a registered 501(c)(3) and take the tax write-off, or they could give it to an employee or a family member whether they are involved in the ranch or farm or not. The landowners could also sell one or both of the licenses to a hunter, either an in state or an out-of-state hunter, for income.

  Ranchers and farmers need to be aware of what WWTF is recommending and send in their comments, because we can be sure the sportsmen are. Whatever happens at the end of this process, these policies will be around a long time, and as landowners, we will have to live with them.

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.

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Dennis Sun: Congress Has Agriculture In Its Sights For Estate Tax Issues

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Since the last week in July, the U.S. Senate has focused on getting an infrastructure bill written and, ultimately, passed. There are other bills waiting for more discussion, but not much interest is generated – except for two bills that affect agriculture.

One of these bills would raise the inheritance tax, and the other would lower the estate tax exemption. Both of these bills pose a threat to those in a family business, especially an agricultural family business. By Aug. 4, the entirety of Republican Senate members had given floor speeches, released press releases and delivered a letter to President Biden on the Democrat’s spending, as well as their stance on raising capital gains taxes and eliminating the stepped-up basis for inherited assets – all actions that stand to hurt family businesses.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Democratic Senators are saying 98 percent of family farms and ranches would not be affected by the plans to raise taxes on people making more than $400,000 a year. Secretary Vilsack also said farmers, ranchers and other family-owned businesses would not be affected by proposed increases in capital gains or the elimination of stepped-up basis, as long as heirs continue to operate the farm or ranch.

We are told the tax hikes would only affect families who end up selling the farm or ranch. Republican Senators have asked Secretary Vilsack for proof of his statements, but he has not answered their request.

The Democrats are in a hurry this week to pass the infrastructure bill before the Senate takes its traditional August recess.

Behind this bill, the Democrats have a larger bill they want passed soon. This bill contains social issues Republicans have cut from the infrastructure bill, such as immigration reform. The bill could also include tax hikes and reforms, including eliminating the stepped-up basis for capital gains taxes. There is no telling what else would be thrown into the bill.

Democrats hope to pass this bill through reconciliation, which they can do if every Democrat Senator votes “yes” and the vice president votes to break the tie. The only thing saving agriculture is some Democratic Senators from agricultural and rural states may vote against the bill or have amendments in the bill passed to exempt farms and ranches, but not other family businesses as I see it.

The president’s tax plan would tax unrealized capital gains at death at 43.4 percent, up from 23.8 percent after including the Medicare surtax. The plan would exempt $1 million in assets for an individual and $2 million for a couple. This action would repeal the stepped-up basis carryover heirs receive from their estates.

As one could guess, Republicans are fighting the president’s plan and the bills I mentioned.

A Texas A&M Agricultural and Food Policy Center study released in July stated just two of 94 representative farmers are affected by current tax policy which exempts $11.7 million in assets for individual heirs in an estate, or $23.4 million per couple. Under the planned bill to eliminate stepped-up basis, 92 percent of the 94 representative farms would carry tax liability averaging $726,104 per farm.

On another bill that would roll back estate tax exemptions to $3.5 million for an individual or $7 million per couple, combined with dropping the stepped-up basis, the tax liability is roughly $2.17 million per farm. This is why the fight is on.

The difference between a taxidermist and high taxes is that a taxidermist takes only your skin, not your family farm, ranch or other family business.

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly ag newspaper serving Wyoming and the surrounding states. To subscribe online or the print edition, please visit wylr.net or call              1-800-967-1647

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Dennis Sun: How About A Loud Cheer For Wyoming’s Most Effective ‘Quiet Man’

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

One of Wyoming’s best friends, Retired U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, passed away last week due to a bike accident. It was a tragic loss for his family, friends and the state of Wyoming.

We will remember him for his accomplishments as a mayor, state legislator and a U.S. senator for 23 years. He had great assistance for these accomplishments – his gracious wife Diana was always with him every step of the way.  

What we will really remember Sen. Enzi for is the way he accomplished everything. His way of negotiating was not the way Washington, D.C. works today. We hear tributes from the last couple of days describing him as soft spoken and quiet – that he was – but, his enthusiasm and knowledge of the issues he worked on was above board and infectious.

When Sen. Enzi retired, he was chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Being an accountant and a small business owner, he knew how to manage money. Debt and deficit were not the results he worked for.

Sen. Enzi was noted for his “80-20 rule,” which focused on the 80 percent the two political parties can agree on rather than focusing on the 20 percent they can’t agree on. The senator thought trying to change the 20 percent was just wasting time and energy, and he was right.

I always enjoyed visits to his Washington, D.C. office. He would explain the issues so they were easy to understand and explain how to come up with a solution. Sen. Enzi understood Wyoming and its issues – from energy to agriculture, rural to urban. He cared for Wyoming and its people. 

I was grateful that Sen. Enzi, Diana and their staff always made time to attend the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame Picnic at the Wyoming State Fair. It meant a lot to us at the Roundup and the other sponsors to see both him and Diana at the event. What a great time this was to visit and catch up. 

It was with great pleasure that we saw Sen. Enzi inducted into the Wyoming Ag Hall of Fame in 2007. Wyoming agriculture nominated him and he was awarded for all of his work to ensure the state’s agriculture and our family’s way of life had a future. We were thankful then, and we are thankful now to have had him representing us in the U.S. Senate. 

We’re sure Sen. Enzi did not approve of the current administration’s deficit spending on a number of issues, as this just wasn’t his way. We all recognize at some point, someone has to pay back what we borrowed. The senator said years back if everyone gave a dime back to the government, it would be free of debt in a year or so. That would be obsolete today, wouldn’t it?

Somehow this country needs to get back to the money management philosophy of Sen. Enzi. Money needs to have a value and if given out for free, it turns out to have no value to people. Some people will just stop earning a living as they realize more money will be given to them. 

The Good Lord took a good one from Wyoming this past week but He must have been looking for someone who cares about people. Well, He got one, along with a good money manager. He just needs to give him time to go fly fishing. 

Our thoughts and prayers go to Diana and family.

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper serving Wyoming and the surrounding states. To subscribe online or the print edition, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.

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Dennis Sun: New Senate Measure Pits Beef Raisers Against Other Beef Raisers

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By Dennis Sun, guest columnist

For those involved in agriculture, we always get suspicious when someone from Washington, D.C. says they want to do something to save America’s family farms and ranches. 

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) are saying just this as they have brought similar bills before the U.S. House and Senate. Sen. Booker said this legislation would “transform a broken system and create a level playing field” for independent family farms. 

The Farm System Reform Act does have both good parts and bad parts. There are some national farm organizations that like the idea, but cattle organizations around the country are appalled by what’s in the bill.

Like any other bill submitted to Congress, the important parts are always in the details and where the funding is to be spent, as well as the amount of funding in the bill.

Sen. Booker has resubmitted this bill he introduced in 2019. I don’t know what happened in 2019, but it evidently was defeated or killed. The Senator must figure his chances are better this time.

The Farm System Reform Act of 2019 would strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect family farmers and ranchers by restoring mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork and expand to dairy products. It would also prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA.” 

This bill would create market transparency and protect farmers and ranchers from predatory purchasing practices and protect livestock and poultry farmers from retaliation. It would prohibit the use of unfair tournament or ranking systems for paying contract growers.

Most family farmers and ranchers would welcome the above parts of the bill. In reality, I think if USDA would just enforce the current Packers and Stockyards Act, this would go a long ways in helping family farmers and ranchers.

Then, we come to some parts of the act I think we need to take a long look at. Sen. Booker is a vegan and while that’s his choice and right, he also has the backing of some radical animal rights groups who want livestock producers to disappear and will go to any lengths to make it happen.

The parts of the bill that could or will harm livestock producers are to place an immediate moratorium on new and expanding large Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) over 1,000 head and phase out the largest CAFOs as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency by 2040. The act would also provide a voluntary buyout for farmers who want to transition out of operating a CAFO. 

We’re all for breaking up the concentration of the meatpackers, but will eliminating the large cattle feeders hurt all in the cattle business? I think it will. 

We have to consider if there will be an adequate number of new, smaller feeders to replace large feeders as well as their efficiency in feeding cattle. Sen. Booker seems to want no cattle feeding and to only utilize grass-fed cattle. This is not going to fly, especially in the export business. Some say it is a direct attack on cattle production. Consumers want beef from grain-fed cattle and so do others in countries that import American beef.

The most terrible part of the bill is it will have beef producers pitted against other beef producers over supporting the act, and it has already started. Beef producers divided are just what the sponsors of the act want to get rid of meat products.

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