Woodall say a second Obama term is worrisome on the environmental front. “I think we really need to be worried about EPA regulations, as a lot of things we’ve been talking and hearing about the past four years will finally be implemented. The shackles are now off EPA and I think a second Obama administration means a really negative relationship (for cattle producers) with EPA.”

At press time in December, Woodall said he expected to see both the dust rule and Clean Water Act (CWA) guidance move forward before the end of 2012.

Updated: EPA Retains Dust Standard

“These are the two biggies we expect first. We’re in a situation now where we’re going to see just how far we can trust Lisa Jackson (EPA chief). She had committed to not adding coarse particulate matter – ag dust – to her final dust rule. But since the rule didn’t come out before the election, all bets are off now. That’s something we are geared up for; making sure that we can keep the pressure on EPA to implement what she committed to us that she would, which is not to include ag dust.”

He calls the CWA guidance, which would change the federal definition of navigable waters “the biggie.” The rule would put all surface water under the jurisdiction of EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“It would hit everybody out there with water on their property. What would happen basically is that farmers and ranchers would have to get CWA permits in order to utilize those bodies of water and the land around bodies of water. That would just really impact farming and ranching.

“We’re talking about creeks, streams, brooks, dry streams, ephemeral streams, arroyos, playa lakes, in-ground stock tanks, and even potentially to the point that if you just have low spots that fill with water when it rains, then those could be considered waters of the U.S. It could be interpreted that broadly,” Woodall says.

He adds that NCBA is preparing for this eventuality. “We’re just trying to make sure we have our congressional friends ready with some options for us. We’re also making sure that we have our war chest built up so that we can potentially take them to court.”

Woodall also expects more discussion in Washington regarding feedlots and confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

“Those will be under more scrutiny in the coming years. We also have the potential out there for regulators to move forward in classifying manure as a superfund element. And potentially really cause some problems for us in declaring feedlots superfund sites,” Woodall says.

Trade is a positive 

Meanwhile, he says trade was a positive area in the past four years for U.S. cattle producers and he expects that to continue.

“The trade front is the area where we have the best relationship with the Obama administration. And we’re still very hopeful that we can get an announcement from Japan soon about raising the qualifying age for U.S. beef exports to 30 months and younger from the current 20 months.”

A Closer Look: Relaxation Of Japan’s Rules For U.S. Beef Examined

He credits Obama’s leadership in finalizing recent trade deals initiated under the Bush administration.

“President Obama and his negotiators were very involved and were the ones who eventually got the trade deals implemented. He worked very hard to make sure Democrats in Congress would support passage. He personally engaged to make it happen, and we give him a lot of credit on the trade front,” Woodall says.

Woodall says the November elections boosted the cattle industry’s influence in Congress a bit.

“We have a couple of new members in Congress who are actually cattle producers. Ted Yoho from Florida is a DVM and a cattle producer. And the new senator from Nebraska is Deb Fischer, a producer. So we’re pretty excited that we have a couple more of our own who are actually here in the halls of Congress.”

His advice to producers is to get engaged in the process. “Whether that’s through your local, state or national association, join them and make sure you know what’s going on. Also, get engaged with the local offices of your members of Congress. Go in, introduce yourself, invite them out to your farm and ranch and build that relationship. What you’ll find is that they will come to you for info, because at the end of the day, these people want to know who their constituents are,” Woodall says.