Billings, Mont. After almost three weeks of planning between the leaders of two state cattlemen's groups in Ohio Buckeye Quality Beef Association (BQBA), an affiliate of R-CALF USA, and the Ohio Cattlemen's Association (OCA), an affiliate of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) a firm agreement was reached to co-sponsor a m ulti-organization forum to provide area cattle producers the opportunity to hear firsthand from both proponents and opponents of the GIPSA rule (proposed competition rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration), as well as to give those producers in attendance an opportunity to ask questions about the rule.
However, late Tuesday, Oct. 26, the opponents of the GIPSA rule publicly backed out of the forum according to quotes attributed to NCBA by various news media, in which NCBA claims R-CALF USA's event notice regarding the multi-organization forum was inaccurate because neither NCBA, the Ohio Cattlemen's Association nor Certified Angus Beef knew anything about the forum until R-CALF USA issued its Oct. 26 event notice.
"Someone's trying to pull the wool over producers' eyes," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "I received regular updates over the past two weeks regarding the progress of the forum's planning by one of the key organizers of the event, and it is clear that the groups opposing the GIPSA rule had firmly committed to hosting the joint event, and then they suddenly backed out."
"I spent the last three weeks working directly with OCA's President Dave Felumlee planning for this multi-organization public forum," said Dave Hutchins, a BQBA director and former R-CALF USA director.
Hutchins owns Millcreek Angus Farm in West Mansfield, Ohio.
"Dave Felumlee and I reached a firm agreement that our two groups would jointly host an open forum specifically on the proposed GIPSA livestock competition rule at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8," Hutchins continued. "We firmly agreed to hold the public forum at Muskingum Livestock Auction Co. in Zanesville, Ohio. We firmly agreed that Joe Logan, Director of Agricultural Programs for the Ohio Environmental Council and past president of the Ohio Farmers Union, would be the neutral moderator for the event. And, we firmly agreed that each organization would bring the experts of their choosing to be panelists at the forum.
"The forum originally was planned for Nov. 15, but OCA President Felumlee informed me during a phone call that he, John Stika, president of Certified Angus Beef, and Elizabeth Harsh, OCA executive director, could not make that date as they all would be attending the Northern International Livestock Expedition in Louisville, Ky. So, we then mutually agreed to the alternative date of Nov. 8 to accommodate their schedules," said Hutchins.
BQBA's secretary also was involved in the planning of the forum as she, too, talked directly to OCA president Felumlee regarding how each organization would advertise the event.