A small group of deer and elk farmers traveled to Washington DC on December 18, 2017 to meet with the newly appointed Under Secretary, Gregory Ibach. The purpose of the meeting was to get to know the new leadership at the Department of Agriculture and to make them aware of the cervid industry and our issues.
In attendance for USDA APHIS were Under Secretary Ibach; Chief of Staff, Dudley Hoskins; Associate Administrator Jere Dick; and VS Associate Deputy Administrator, Burke Healey. In attendance for the ACA were Todd and Teresa Landt, Iowa Deer Farmers Association; Eric Mohlman, North American Elk Breeders Association; and Laurie Seale, Whitetails of Wisconsin. Charly Seale, Exotic Wildlife Association, and the EWA lobbyist, John Blount set up the meeting for the cervid industry, but Charly ended up stranded at the Atlanta airport due to the power outage.
We kept our talking points to a minimum and only addressed the industry’s major issues. Topics included: the need to release the revised CWD Program Standards as soon as possible, the need for more funding for the CWD program (research dollars and indemnity), and the USDA rule making process that is so burdensome needs to be simplified.
The Under Secretary and his Chief of Staff asked very good questions of us including: how other diseases such as TB and Brucellosis affect our industry, supply and demand of our animals and how that has impacted our industry’s growth, and lastly, the communication we have with wildlife agencies regarding CWD on both sides of the fence.
We had a great first meeting and look forward to additional conversations with the Under Secretary and his staff, especially in regards to the CWD issues we are currently facing.