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Industry Assocs. Stand Together (2007)

by Laurie Prasnicki
Date Posted: 01-01-2007

In early May, I traveled to Washington, D.C. representing Whitetails of Wisconsin along with Wisconsin Commercial Deer and Elk Farmers representative’s Joel Espe and Richard Spanton and our lobbyist, Gary Goyke. We were part of a coalition of associations made up of several state and national organizations. This being an annual meeting held each spring in Washington, D.C., we rely on congressional lobbying firm, Capitol Hill Consultants to set the agenda and tone for these very important meetings with members of congress.

During the three days of meetings, the representatives from the various state and national associations meet with members of the legislature from their home states. These three days of meetings with the representatives from USDA, Safari Club International, and the American Farm Bureau were very important to our industry.

The first was a meeting of every association representative with USDA officials to discuss the failure, on the part of USDA, to publish the much sought after Code of Federal Rules (CFR) for Chronic Wasting Disease. By the conclusion of the meeting with Dr. John Clifford and Dr. Dean Goldner of the United States Department of
Agriculture it became very evident that the rules were not going to be published any time in the near future. There were promises that they would do what they could to expedite the process but because of bureaucratic red tape little hope was given that these very important industry rules would see the light of day any time soon.

The industry groups left this meeting very frustrated to say the least. One can not emphasize the importance of
having these rules in place. Every day, every month, and every year these rules are delayed costs our industry
literally millions of dollars. I have been attending the Washington, D.C. trips for 5 years now and this has been our number one issue discussion issue with USDA and our legislators every year. One would think 5 years would be ample time to finalize these rules, but apparently not.

The next meeting, which was also attended by all state and national representatives, was with lawyers from Safari Club International. The main theme at this meeting was to have each state and national association endorse the national hunting rules that Safari Club now has in place. If you have not seen these rules I suggest that you obtain a copy and read through them. It is my opinion that adhering to them would be detrimental to industry instead of helping it.

The industry representatives broke up into groups to visit their own state legislators. These meetings allowed the individual representatives to visit with legislators from their congressional districts and carry a two part message.  We wanted to promote an amendment to the pending Farm Bill to authorize $25 million to be spent by USDA over five years to study EHD, Blue Tongue, and related parasitic diseases and to pressure USDA to finalize the federal rules for interstate movement of CWD susceptible species.

On that note the Wisconsin delegation had the opportunity to meet with three of our congressional legislator’s
Chiefs of Staff. We met with Chief of Staff to Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), who is now Chairman of the Agricultural
Appropriations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee and we met with a staff member to
Representative Dave Obey (D-WI) who is Chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations committee. Both of these men are extremely important in the agriculture community. We also met with Senator Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) Chief of Staff, who was also very knowledgeable concerning our issues.

After visiting with both our senator’s staff members we left with a sense that they understood our issues and wanted to do what they could to help our industry. Time will tell. As the old saying goes Rome was not built in a day. You can not expect to tear down the bureaucratic wall immediately. It is extremely important that we are very careful not to become frustrated with the process. The wheels in Washington turn very slowly. What is also very important is that we continue to work with other industry groups and leaders and make sure our presence and voices are heard in Washington.

There is truly strength in numbers and this is why industry must have a unified front.