September was certainly a busy month around the Association and the cattle industry. We held a successful quarterly meeting in Bartow (the home of FCW President Rhonda Waters). The meetings were well attended, and I was once again amazed at the amount of important information that was discussed and debated. I encourage all FCA members to attend our quarterly meetings, you can truly gain a deeper knowledge about current events, and influence FCA polices by just simply showing up. If you have the opportunity please plan on joining us at the next meeting (November 29-30) in Clewiston. I would like to thank Ned and Rhonda Waters for hosting the Steak-Out at their home place, the Polk County Cattlemen’s Association for cooking a great steak, and all the membership and staff that attended for their support.
Since my last President’s Message, we have had a couple of incidents that could have been disastrous for Florida’s Cattle Industry, but through both the diligence of FDACS and the protocol that they and USDA have in place for disease monitoring, neither incident caused any huge negative impacts. You have probably already heard about one of these “incidents”, which is that a cow in Florida was diagnosed with an atypical case of BSE (more on page 52). This cow at no point entered the food chain, or any processing facility. She was identified through a USDA program with renderers, where they are reimbursed for taking samples of cattle they collect, and serves as an example of how well our system works. The other “incident” is not nearly as well known. Now DO NOT BE ALARMED, an adult dog who came over from Venezuela was diagnosed with screwworms in a wound on its’ paw. The dog has been treated, the screwworms found on the animal collected, and extensive surveillance has shown no more occurrences. The dog was certainly infected outside of Florida and the United States, and was treated before any infestation could start. Fortunately the system the state, and federal government have in place worked and both cases were caught and remedied. These two “incidents” could have become a nightmare for our industry. What if it had been a communicable disease like Foot and Mouth? What if it had been a non-naturally occurring case of BSE where much more would need to be known about the animal and where it had been? The answers to those questions aren’t nearly as positive as these cases have been. It just convinces me even more that we need traceability now more than ever. The three year plan the Traceability Task Force has come up with will allow us to prove the model and share the cost to implement with all segments of our industry. We need to lead the charge in this area, as the 21 points of entry into Florida certainly make this Peninsula we all love very susceptible to foreign disease, and a catastrophic event for the cattle industry.
In addition to the quarterly, September also brings the annual FCA heifer sale, what a great event. I want to thank the Marketing Committee for all their effort in putting this sale together and the Arcadia Stockyard for hosting again this year.
Towards the end of August, FCLA Class V participated in their first session of the program. All of the young leaders who were chosen for Class V are well on their way to becoming the future face of the FCA. President-Elect Matt Pearce and Dusty Holley are making sure that Class V is getting informed and educated about our industry and any issues we need to be working on.
By the time you read this message, I hope that FCA and NCBA’s efforts were successful in gaining an extension through September 30, 2019 on the Livestock Exemption to the Electronic Logging Devices. We will continue to work towards getting an Hours of Service fix for our livestock haulers that both looks out for the welfare of our cattle, and the economic interests of our cattlemen.
My “Show Your Passion” campaign continues to be hash tagged all over Social Media, and I hope folks outside of our industry are taking notice. When you find yourself doing an everyday ranching activity that shows the care we take of our animals, environmental stewardship, the abundant wildlife we support, or just a nice day on the ranch take a picture or video, share it with others and don’t forget to add #showyourpassion. To bolster this effort I will be working with the FCA Public Relations Committee and the Executive Board to do a series of short 10 to 15 second video clips that we as members of FCA can start using on social media and sharing with friends outside of our business. These clips will highlight all the good we do that I mentioned. I believe social media is our cheapest and most effective way to reach a broad audience. We must tell our story to those who need to hear it, if we don’t let others know the truth, than no one will.