|Let Your Voice Be Heard
(January 1, 2008) Happy New Year to you all! I hope that the holiday season has left you rested and ready to make 2008 the most successful year yet.
Livestock producers use many of the non-lethal tools recommended by Wildlife Services and others. Farmers and ranchers spent about $209 million on non-lethal controls according to the “2005 National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Cattle Death Loss Report,” including altered husbandry practices, guard dogs, scaring devices and the use of herders. Of this, sheep producers spent $9.8 million annually, and cattle producers spent $199.1 million.
I, personally, am looking forward to 2008 for the American sheep industry. We are looking strong, and I can not wait to see how much we can accomplish this year.
Speaking of our producers, each and every one of you have a chance this year to demonstrate your support of our sheep industry and those aspects of it that are key to its survival.
As we have experienced in years past, an important part of our industry is being attacked by animal rights groups and legislative efforts – tools for predator control.
The tools in question are Compound 1080, used in livestock protection collars, and M-44 sodium cyanide capsules. These predator controls are used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (WS) program to protect not only sheep but other livestock, poultry and threatened or endangered species from predation by foxes, coyotes and feral dogs. I know that all you producers out there have dealt with predators on some level, and we need all tools available to manage these animals.
On the legislative side, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), on behalf of the animal rights agenda, is introducing legislation that seeks to outlaw the production and manufacturing of Compound 1080 and M-44 sodium cyanide capsules claiming these compounds pose a threat to national security. Rep. DeFazio has brought forth this legislation in years before. The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) in conjunction with state associations and the Legislative Council have been contacting their U.S. representatives asking for opposition to this bill since November. Please ensure your House members are opposed.
The second, and most timely action to be taken, is to comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has a comment period open until Jan. 15, 2008.
These same two tools for predator control are the subject of a comment period of the EPA as requested on a petition filed by animal rights and environmental groups asking the agency to cancel the registrations of Compound 1080 and M-44 sodium cyanide capsules. These anti-livestock groups filed this petition on the grounds that these substances cannot be used without causing harm to the environment and pose an imminent hazard, but I feel that the main goal is to put a stop to any type of predator-control practices.
Anyone and everyone involved in the sheep industry, be it producers or those that support them, NEEDS TO COMMENT to EPA to maintain registration of these tools. It would be a hardship on family farmers and ranchers if these two substances were eliminated from predator control. If Compound 1080 and M-44 sodium cyanide capsules are not available, the numbers of sheep deaths due to predators are guaranteed to rise.
Comments must be received on or before Jan. 15. We have been told that comments from the anti-livestock folks are being received, so we need to make sure our side of the issue is heavily represented.
Please write up a brief comment including a docket reference: EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-0944. Include a statement that you are a sheep or livestock producer, the state you operate, mention your predator losses and the need to protect livestock from the ever-growing predator populations that are killing your livestock.
Comments can be mailed to: Office of Pesticide Programs; Regulatory Public docket (7502P); Environmental Protection Agency, Rm. S-4400; 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. 20460-0001.
Ensure that your comments are received by Jan. 15 and share this article with your neighbors and ask that they submit their comments. All livestock operations need to be involved.
Feel free to use a point or two from the following list if you wish in your comment.
NASS documented a $127 million loss to the livestock industry, representing a $18.3 million loss to sheep, a $15.9 million loss to goats and a $92.7 million loss to cattle. Without an effective predator management program, combining lethal and non-lethal methods, economic losses to predators would be significantly higher.
Unlike loss due to weather and age, which producers have little control over, loss to predators can be addressed through lethal and non-lethal tools. Just as producers use veterinarians and medicine to respond to illness, they use controls to respond to predator loss.
Each tool is used by WS in a highly target-specific manner, in limited applications and in compliance with EPA regulations.
The livestock protection collar, with Compound 1080, is an important control tool as it can be used to remove coyotes that are killing livestock where other methods, such as trapping, have previously failed. M-44s are useful in more remote areas and is also used to help control predation on endangered or threatened species and for control of some diseases.
The livestock protection collar is extremely targeted, working only on a predator that is biting the neck of a sheep or lamb. The amount of Compound 1080 released from punctured collars is too small to cause any risk of contaminating water.
The maximum annual use by WS between 1988 and 1991 was 220 pounds of sodium cyanide. In fiscal year 2000, 68 pounds were used. In comparison, the mining industry used more than 200 million pounds of sodium cyanide annually to concentrate ores.
You can also submit your comments online; again reference docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-0944. I would like to note that the online process to submit comments seems more involved than necessary, however, below is a quick set of instructions to help you navigate the process.
1. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main.
2. On the toolbar on the top, select the link “Search for Dockets.”
3. Enter the docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-0944 in the appropriate field on the search form and click submit.
4. In the next screen, click on the “EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-0944” link.
5. Scroll down the list of submitted comments until you get to the one labeled “EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-0944-0010” and click on that one. Click on the yellow icon next to the “add comment” heading, and add your comment.
Please take the time to defend your industry and your rights as a producer, and feel free to contact ASI with any questions you may have about this issue.
On to a lighter topic, ASI and its staff are in full convention mode and are gearing up for this year’s gathering, and we hope you are too! I encourage everyone, from small flock to range producers, industry supporters and everyone in between come to exciting Las Vegas, Nev., Jan 23-26. The seminars, tours and social gatherings will help us kick off 2008 as a solid industry that will continue to strengthen through the year.
I also want to implore every state to send a voting member to attend the ASI Board of Directors meeting. It is so important to give your state’s industry a voice and help form policy to protect your producers and keep ASI a successful representative for the industry.
I look forward to seeing each and every one of you in Las Vegas!