National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Senate Environment & Public Works Committee
The Honorable James M. Jeffords, Chairman
Robert E. Lee
Chairman, NCBA Property Rights & Environmental Management Committee
with regards to the
Oversight Hearing , Conducted on October 8, 2002
“The Clean Water Act - - Then and Now”
consumer-focused, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is the trade
association of America’s cattle farmers and ranchers, and the marketing
organization for the largest segment of the nation’s food and fiber industry.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), on behalf of its members and affiliates, herein submits its testimony to the Environment and Public Works Committee of the U.S. Senate concerning the oversight hearing conducted on October 8, 2002 concerning “The Clean Water Act – Then and Now.”
NCBA represents the many cattle feeders and family ranchers, all of whom have a stake in protecting the environment. We believe that common sense, cost effective and affordable principles can be applied to livestock production to achieve environmental protection of wetlands and riparian areas.
Initiated in 1898, NCBA is the marketing organization and trade association for America’s one million cattle farmers and ranchers. With offices in Denver and Washington, D.C., NCBA is a consumer-focused, producer-directed organization representing the largest segment of the nation’s food and fiber industry.
NCBA’s Commitment to Conservation
During last year’s Farm Bill debate, NCBA Vice President, Eric Davis of Bruno, Idaho, appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee to present testimony outlining the importance of conservation initiatives for America’s cattle producers.
“Regardless of what form the final conservation title will take, we are aware that the financial resources committed to conservation spending over the next ten years will make the 2002 Farm Bill a great milestone in federal conservation policy. . . .NCBA wants to stress that whatever form the final package takes, it is critical that the 2002 farm bill make a major, new commitment to providing livestock producers with conservation cost share and incentive payments assistance in the context of voluntary, incentive-based programs.” (Testimony of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to the Senate Agriculture Committee, The Honorable Tom Harkin, Chairman, presented by Eric Davis, NCBA Vice-President, July 24, 2001).
The Role of the Department of Agriculture
NCBA appreciates the role that the Department of Agriculture has taken throughout the years in assisting cattle producers. The technical assistance that the Agency provides is critical in helping farmers and ranchers implement conservation and environmental practices on their operations.
The Role of the Environmental Protection Agency and the States
The Clean Water Act outlines different approaches for “point sources” and “nonpoint sources.” Depending on their particular situation, a cattle operation can either be a “point source” or a “nonpoint source.” If a cattle operation is a “concentrated animal feeding operation,” that operation is a point source, subject to effluent limitations guidelines drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If a cattle operation is not a concentrated animal feeding operation, that operation is considered by the Clean Water Act to be a nonpoint source, and pursuant to Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, is subject to management programs implemented by the States.
The Act envisioned a partnership between the States and various federal agencies, working in collaboration to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s water.” 33 U.S.C. § 1251(a).
States have developed workable programs that are achieving positive environmental results. The fact that the programs vary from state to state is evidence that a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate.
Recently, EPA proposed a nutrient trading policy. NCBA submitted comments to the proposal. Nutrient trading could be an opportunity for effective federal and state collaboration, with the Agency recognizing that in many instances, incentives for voluntary actions can result in greater water quality and environmental benefits than would otherwise be achieved under the Clean Water Act.
The Role of the Producer
NCBA recognizes that environmental stewardship is important. NCBA policy directs that the Association will not be compelled to defend anyone in the beef cattle industry who clearly acts to abuse grazing, water, or air resources.
On the other hand, we believe that it is important to recognize those producers who have clearly acted to protect grazing, water, air, and wildlife resources. For the past 11 years, NCBA has named seven regional Environmental Stewardship Award winners, and a national winner. The regional winners are recognized during our summer conference, and the national winner is named at the annual National Convention.
Because the role of the producer is ever changing, at this year’s National Convention, NCBA staff will provide an educational session on the new provisions of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) during NCBA’s “Cattlemen’s College.”
NCBA appreciates the opportunity to provide this testimony. We remain committed to responsible stewardship of our natural resources.
Robert E. Lee
Property Rights & Environmental Management Committee
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association