Editor's Note: The audio player above will allow you to hear Andy Vance's chat with Bill Donald.
Rancher Bill Donald may not be what you picture when you think of the president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, but when you hear him speak, he delivers exactly the message you expect to hear.
Donald, a tall, lanky cowboy from Melville, Montana (population 62), is known for his trademark ponytail and big grin.
He became one of my favorite interviewees the first time I met him, several years ago at an Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Convention.
Bill is, as you might expect, a straight shooter. I spoke with him this week about his organization’s reaction to proposed legislation to set a federal standard for hen housing, a bill proposed and supported by a joint effort of the United Egg Producers and Wayne Pacelle’s Humane Society of the United States. To put it mildly, Donald, NCBA, and more or less the rest of the livestock community are none too happy with their egg-producing brethren.
I’ve spent the past two weeks writing extensively about this situation for our sister publication Feedstuffs, and at my blog, The Angle. Gene Gregory, President of UEP, penned a very thoughtful counter-argument to my original post at Feedstuffs and I dug into the actual concept of "enriched colony housing."In other words, there is a lot to read.
This week NCBA, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation publicly renewed their objections to the UEP-HSUS agreement and the associated legislation, namely because they say the UEP gambit sets a dangerous precedent for getting the federal government involved in basic issues of animal husbandry (not to mention giving HSUS at least the perception of credibility from the ag community).
Rather than reiterating the point-counterpoint, I’ll simply say this: if the Chick-Fil-A commercials ("Eat Mor Chikin'") aren't the classic battle of cow and chicken, perhaps the current discord between UEP and NCBA is the true throwing down of the proverbial gauntlet.
Listen to Andy’s interview with NCBA President Bill Donald by using the audio player above.