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A Good Feeling

Written by Dennis Sun

As I’m close to landing at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., I always try to locate as many national monuments as possible before landing. It is always a good feeling. In venturing to D.C., one hopes they can do their part to make a better life for themselves, their family and for whatever business they’re in. Hope and optimism were in our thoughts as we made our final decent, along with plans to see some new sights and restaurants.

A week ago I spent a full, four days in Washington, D.C. attending Public Lands Council (PLC) meetings and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Legislative Conference. The staff of both organizations really does an outstanding job of developing an agenda filled with speakers and office visits of all the agencies that, as ranchers, we deal with or they deal with us. It is easy to sit at home and cuss these folks if we think they are wrong, but the chance to look them in the eye and visit with them is always more helpful.

We are coming to the end of our President’s term, as he has around eight months left, and for some, those eight months can’t go quickly enough. You soon realize that those in the regulatory agencies are completing their marching orders from the White House, and those in Congress, especially from the West, are frustrated as those agencies ignore their letters and messages. Some members of Congress seem tired, and the current political season and elections are, well, somewhat nasty with the name calling and pointing of fingers going on. Some say politics is not a spectator sport, and that is certainly true today.

The staffs of PLC and NCBA had a good lineup of Senators, Congressmen and agency heads to speak at the conference and had planned visits to heads and top staff of the Bureau of Land Management range management department, Forest Service grazing and sage grouse programs, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA Farm Service Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, USDA Food Safety Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinarian Medicine. Some of us from Wyoming met with the Natural Resource Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller and top staff on Wyoming issues. While we may have not all been satisfied or agreed with some discussions, they were all respectful to us as ranchers. And a number of them had their boots on for us, as it was “Hats at the Capitol week.”

NCBA always holds a reception for members of Congress and their staffs during the week in the Rayburn Building. This year around 1,300 attended for some beef, lamb and refreshments along with some good conversations. The congressional staffers love it.

As we left Washington D.C., we all hoped we accomplished something to take home, aside from tired feet from walking and standing. The success of these conferences comes from the great planning of staffs and leadership.

My term as Wyoming Director of PLC has ended. Wyoming has had a good long relation with PLC over the years. Remember, Wyomingites Ty Moore and Jim Magagna helped start it, and Jim is still going strong with it as one of the most respected members involved. You soon appreciate all the hard work and leadership by many from our western states over the years. Some battles never seem to go away, but we still have to confront them. As some PLC members step down, there are always good ones to replace them.