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Cattlemen’s Association members travel to Tallahassee Featured

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Pictured are: Lee Bighem, Billy Bighem, Mack Glass, Stormie Bighem, Senator Bill Montford, Jeff Snell and  George Fisher Pictured are: Lee Bighem, Billy Bighem, Mack Glass, Stormie Bighem, Senator Bill Montford, Jeff Snell and George Fisher

Members from the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association departed early Wednesday morning, in below freezing temperatures for Capital Hill in Tallahassee.  The annual ‘Boots on the Hill’ campaign gives the Florida Cattlemen’s Association the chance to lobby their agenda for the year.  

Associations from all over Florida meet at Capital Hill to bring to the legislature what they feel needs attention. Traveling from Jackson County Wednesday morning were Andy Andreasen, Billy and Stormie Bigham, Mack and Alicia Glass, and Jeff Snell.  

Snell says the event is usually capped off with a huge street party in the evening near the Capital.  The event allows cattlemen from all over Florida to air their needs and give input to the legislature about the issues they face throughout the year.  

Long-time member Mack Glass said of the event, “We are here to support the Florida Department of Agriculture and IFAS budget as well as protect our industry from over reaching regulations.”

Some of the key points the Cattlemen’s Association are supporting his year are:

“Animal” Legislation – Monitor There are several bills filed relating to the care of animals. We are watching all of them to make sure no bad amendments directed at our industry are adopted.  Our industry takes great pride in our care of our cattle, horses, and pets of all kinds. Animal Hoarding – HB 86 (Sen. Hukill); Animals – SB 132 (Sen. Steube) HB 153 (Rep. Porter); Animal Cruelty – SB 200 (Sen. Steube); Cruelty to Animals – HB 473 (Rep Brodeur) SB 952 (Sens. Hutson, Steube)

Budget – Department of Agriculture: Support increased funding for Rural and Family Lands Program to $100 million; $26.5 million for projects within Office of Ag Water Policy; $390,000 to reopen the Animal Disease Lab in Live Oak.

Budget- Cattle Enhancement Board: Support Cattle Enhancement Board continued funding; presently $750,000 recurring in FCACS budget, managed by CEB board that is producer driven. Money is for research and promotion.

Budget – UF/IFAS: Support 4-H Initiative HB3309(Rep. Grant) $1 million, $2 million (Sen. Grimsley); Institute for Comparative Veterinary Diagnostics – HB 2199(Porter) $2.5 million; Workload demand, extension and research $3,705,379.

Growth Management – Support SB 362 (Perry) HB 207 (Clemons, Edwards-Walpole) requiring local governments to address the protection of private property rights in their comprehensive plans.

Livestock Markets – Support The Florida Association of Livestock Markets has requested changes to how payments are made and received so that producers and markets are better protected should payments fail to be made or are intentionally delayed. This issue will need to be amended onto existing legislation in the next few weeks. 

State Symbols Legislation – Support HB 155 (Magar) SB 404 (Grimsley) specifies that the “Cracker Cattle” as the official state heritage cattle breed; also reinstates the “Cracker Horse” as the official state horse.

Sales Tax Exemption – Support presently farms have to pay sales tax on fence construction for livestock, and we are mandated to fence in our animals. All taxes affect our bottom line, as the price of our products is set by the market place and we have no way to pass it on. We request a complete sales tax exemption for building fences, but at least able to get refunds for fence maintenance and repair occurring after Hurricane Irma.

Theft – Support HB 491 (Roth) SB 928 (Bracy) increases fine for theft of commercially farmed animal or bee colony of registered beekeeper.

Veterinarian Medicine – Monitor SB 1728 (Hutson) HB 1221 (Killebrew) Providing and revising definitions relating to veterinary medical practice, etc; need to ensure that no further regulation of normal and typical animal husbandry duties on a ranch.

Young Farmers and Ranchers – Support HB 645 (Raburn) SB 872 (Grimsley) Creates Florida Young Farmer and Rancher Matching Grant Program and Young Farmer and Rancher Advisory Council with FDACS; directs DACS to adopt rules and to establish clearinghouse of resources to assist young farmers and ranchers.

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