Executive Vice President
By the time this magazine hits your mailbox, the midterm election will be over, the political ads will have stopped and life will slowly be returning to normal. I think most will agree that the campaign season was especially long and prickly this year. With so much riding on the outcome of some races here, our state got an extra dose of campaign rhetoric as candidates and political action committees worked to promote their messages and shore up their positions.
As this publication heads off to the printer, I don’t know the outcome of the election yet. What I do know, however, is that the NDSA is committed to working with whoever was tapped for the positions. I am proud of our organization’s strong track record of being able to work with lawmakers — urban and rural — on both sides of the aisle. Over the years, we have been successful at bringing people together and rallying support for the beef industry’s priority issues, and that’s exactly what we aim to do in the upcoming North Dakota Legislative Session and the new Congress.
State lawmakers will be headed to Bismarck in less than a month for their organizational session. That’s when they will select the majority and minority leaders, choose their committees and prepare for the 66th North Dakota Legislative Assembly, which will commence Jan. 3.
Just as the lawmakers are preparing for the session, the NDSA is too. Our organization will be initiating a handful of bills in 2019, and we are working now to formulate the language, find legislative sponsors and build coalitions to fortify our efforts. Among the bills we have planned are ones that would allow freeze brands to be used as legal proof of ownership on cattle, just as they are now for horses and mules; that clarify the disposition procedures related to seized animals; and that work toward the NDSA’s long-standing policy to reassert landowners’ private property rights by removing the need to post land in order to keep others off without permission.
I expect the first two bills to be pretty straightforward and, hopefully, non-controversial. If history is any indication, however, the third one will likely generate plenty of conversation. The NDSA and the broader agricultural community have strong arguments for the change. All are centered around private property rights. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been enough to sway the opinion of decision-makers in past attempts and, so, we will need to have our “A” game on if we want the outcome to be different this time around. No doubt, our strength will lie in our grassroots outreach, and we will need the help and support of you, our members, to make a convincing case and yield a fruitful outcome.
Several of you have already reached out to our staff and leaders volunteering to help, and we are grateful for that. If there are others who want to be a part of this effort, we welcome your involvement as well. The NDSA is an important constituency, and your engagement will help us underscore that and elevate our concerns.
On the national scene, we will be working with both the old and new Congresses on several hefty issues as well. Of course, the farm bill still needs to be completed; the electronic logging device mandate and hours-of-service rules still need permanent fixes to address the unique needs of live-animal transport; and an appropriate regulatory framework needs to be established for lab-grown meat to ensure that consumers know what they are getting and that conventionally raised meat has a level playing field.
There’s lots to do, but I look forward to working with lawmakers — old and new — and all of you on the issues that matter to our industry.
Here’s wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.