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New Year, New Challenges, New Policy Decisions to Make- Cattle Industry Gears Up for a Busy 2019

Last year in 2018, the cattle industry here in Oklahoma was faced with several policy issues to consider. Members of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association were obliged during their winter policy meeting, to choose the direction they as a collective group would take on these issues. One item that most members say they were quite surprised to have seen come up was the legalization of industrial hemp production here in the state. That was also legalized on a federal level with the 2018 Farm Bill dropping hemp as a controlled substance. According to Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of the OCA, the members of the organization initially seemed to lean towards opposing the measure to legalize the crop - but in the end, they cast their vote to support passage of the measure. And so, it did this past April with the first legal hemp crop produced under the new law in 2018 as well. In a recent interview with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, Kelsey explained some of the forage and research opportunities the new crop presents.
 
“I don’t know that there will be a rush, but I think there are some folks who want to kind of experiment with that feed component, which is why we were heavily involved in that discussion,” he said. “It’s not going to be an overnight issue - we’re going to have to figure out its nutrition value, how to present it to cattle, etc. So, there’s going to be some opportunities for research. And who knows, there may be some other opportunities for some alternative crops in the future that we might look at and this has got the ball rolling if you will.”
 
Kelsey says 2019 will be no exception when it comes to the amount of work to be done on making policy decisions. Several issues have already starting to become quite obvious as main points of discussion within the cattle industry. For instance, the issue of animal identification and disease traceability have dominated conversations leading up to the new year and is likely to be a hot topic at the upcoming Cattle Industry Convention happening at the end of this month in New Orleans. In addition to that, Kelsey says work will continue to restructure the Waters of the US rule and to keep lab grown protein from imitating beef products in the marketplace.
 
“Whether it be first and foremost from a disease traceability or security standpoint, we need to make sure we can continue to trade and continue to operate. And there is a marketing component in terms of international exports and those types of things,” Kelsey said
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