The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) will be offering two new awards at the Fat Stock Sale held on August 27 during the Northeast Washington Fair in Colville.
The Champion and Reserve Champion steer, lamb, swine and goat entries will receive an additional monetary award to recognize the hard work of the competitors. Banners and a photo of the competitor and winning animal will also be shared with area media.
The Fat Stock Sale has been sponsored and coordinated by the SCCA prior to the formation of the Northeast Washington Fair and the association continues to give young competitors the opportunity to showcase and sell their animals in a supportive environment. Many local businesses and individuals participate in the sale, showing young people in the area that hard work pays off.
SCCA would like to recognize the sponsors for the awards including Hope Transportation Services, LaDuke & Fogle Equipment, EZ Knit Fabrics and Wishon Cattle Co.
“We are looking forward to offering these new awards because we know young people need encouragement and positive experiences in order to pursue their interest in agriculture,” SCCA President Scott Nielsen said. “We want to see the next generation of farmers and ranchers be successful in Stevens County and we are committed to creating opportunity.”
Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association Vice President Cody Sweat recently awarded scholarships to three local 2022 graduates on behalf of the organization: Beau Henneman, Ali Koesel and Marshall Cornwall (not pictured). Henneman said he is planning to attend butcher school at Miles City Community College and Koesel will be pursuing a biology degree in a pre-med track. For more information about SCCA, visit stevenscountycattlemen.com.
The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) Fat Stock Sale topped over $300,000 last month, breaking a record for the annual August event.
The Fat Stock Sale has been hosted by SCCA for decades and gives young people in the community the chance to raise and sell an animal at a solid profit. Through the support of generous community members and businesses, young people selling their livestock through the sale routinely make above-market prices for their animals.
“For a lot of our kids, these experiences help them gain confidence in participating in agriculture as a business and give them the seed money for further education and other goals,” said SCCA President Scott Nielsen.
At the 2021 Fat Stock Sale, 41 beef, 12 sheep, 66 swine, 8 goats and 2 rabbits were sold, bringing in $300,102 in revenue. All of the money goes directly to the young producers and none of the funds are held as overhead or commission by SCCA.
“We choose to sponsor this event by providing the auctioneer, the book keeping, the setup and other elements because we know how important this event is to the kids,” Nielsen said. SCCA estimates that the annual cost of running the sale is roughly $2,500.
Even during years when having the sale has been challenging due to an absence of equipment or cancelled events. Last year when the Northeast Washington Fair was cancelled due to the Covid-19 virus, SCCA independently hosted a showing event for young beef producers as well as hosting the regular fat stock sale.
“We are committed to our kids and to this community. We know where there is a will, there is always a way,” Nielsen said.
The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) is once again inviting the community to support local youth by participating in the Fat Stock Sale at the Northeast Washington Fair on Saturday, Aug. 28. The sale begins at 3pm in the sale ring next to the beef barn.
Attendees to the sale will have the opportunity to purchase an animal raised for the fair. Bidders in the auction can either purchase the animal and have it processed at a local butcher or offer “support” for the animal but not purchase the meat. For “support” bids, a local butcher provides the “floor” bid that purchases the meat.
“We are pleased to again be hosting this sale so all the hard work the kids have put in this year is recognized and rewarded, “ said SCCA President Scott Nielsen.
Buyers at the sale that included businesses and individuals have a tremendous opportunity to be recognized for their support of agriculture youth in Stevens County.
“This sale is a unique opportunity to let our kids know we value their hard work, their dedication and their part in our community. By buying at the Fat Stock Sale, people can affirm to these kids that agriculture is important and we are encouraged to see them stepping up to be the next generation,” Nielsen noted. “The businesses and individuals that purchase there are appreciated and recognized by SCCA and the community.”
Beef “Alumni Show” at NEWA Fair invites former participants
Prizes to be awarded
You are never too old to trot out your livestock showing skills and this year can even win a prize doing so at the 2021 Northeast Washington Fair. As part of the traditional livestock showing event, the beef, pig, sheep, dairy and horse barn superintendents are also hosting an “Alumni Show” where former fair participants can show the youngsters how it’s done. The beef portion of the alumni show will be held on Thursday, August 26 at 3:30pm in the show ring next to the beef barn.
Beef barn superintendent Jenna Barker said the event ties into the 2021 NEWA Fair theme ,”It’s a Family Tradition.”
“The Alumni Show is open for anyone who used to show beef at some point in their life. We will provide the steers/heifers and show supplies. They will draw a number to determine who shows which animal. They will have 15 to 20 minutes to fit the animal and then show.”
A belt buckle for the top alumni showman and money awards will be presented to the top 5 competitors. The overall showman will then show in a round robin competition held at the same time as the 4-H and FFA round robin on Friday night at 7pm.
For more information, contact Jenna Barker at 509-675-3016
A recent announcement by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife(WDFW) that wolf populations have grown for the 12th straight year is not positive news for local cattlemen who note other numbers should also be tallied.
“Over the last 12 years, multiple ranch operations have decided to quit instead of continuing to fight on the wolf issue, but those numbers aren’t being considered,” said Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Scott Nielsen. “We also know of operations that have had to reduce their numbers or give up grazing pastures as the numbers of wolves have continued to grow.”
As of December 2020, WDFW said there were 132 wolves in 24 packs. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation also counted 46 wolves in five packs in Washington. Thirteen of the packs WDFW monitored were documented as successful breeding pairs.
“We know that as the numbers have increased, the negative economic impact to our rural communities is increasing,” Nielsen said. “The department’s message seems to be that we need to celebrate increased numbers even though the wolf population is dispersing much slower than planned. We are forced to live with the burden that comes with the wolf population oversaturation in our community. That’s just not right.”
While wolf advocates are excited about the increase of wolves, the brunt of the burden is being experienced in Eastern Washington, Nielsen noted.
“We need to recognize that Eastern Washington continues to experience the overload of wolves, which makes it less exciting for us,” Nielsen said.
Although wolves were delisted at the federal level in January, they are still recognized as an endangered species in Washington State and have special protections.
Going forward, SCCA said it wants to see policies and practices implemented that will encourage wolves to disperse throughout the state.
“Current WDFW practices have enabled wolves to become very comfortable living in our back yards. We do not see this as positive news,” Nielsen noted.
The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) recently confirmed their plans to host a fat stock sale in 2021, with the last week of August as the tentative date. The association is encouraging youth in the area to continue their plans to raise livestock for the event.
SCCA President Scott Nielsen said despite challenges associated with Covid restrictions in 2020, the show and sale both went well, providing an important experience for young people.
“We will once again be supporting an independent Livestock Show that is being organized by the Beef Barn Superintendent, Jenna Barker Olson, and her crew of Jessica Jabaay, Angie Esvelt and many others,” said SCCA President Scott Nielsen. “Jenna said last year’s show was so well received, we decided to make it an annual event. We all look forward to the fair and our livestock show will be a great way to help prepare the Beef projects for the fair.”
By ensuring young people can successfully raise and sell livestock in Stevens County, the livestock show and fat stock sale affirms to young people that agriculture is essential.
“If we start telling kids that raising and selling livestock is not essential, we discourage them from viewing farming and ranching as real jobs,” Nielsen said. “We need the next generation to be interested and willing to feed our nation.”
Nielsen said SCCA is hopeful the sale will be part of the Northeast Washington Fair, but the association is willing to host both events if the fair is cancelled again or if including the sale in the fair is not possible.
“Our association has hosted and managed the sale for decades and we continue to be committed to its success,” Nielsen said. “Kids work long and hard for the reward and satisfaction of being part of the fat stock sale. We recognize the importance of that effort and will continue to provide a market for them.”
Cattlemen granted intervenor status in environmentalist suit
The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) was recently granted intervenor status in a lawsuit from environmental groups that want to remove seasonal grazing from the Colville National Forest.
A lawsuit filed by Western Watersheds Project, the Kettle Range Conservation Group and the Lands Council in September claimed that the Colville National Forest is allowing “excessive grazing” on the forest’s 1.5 million acres. The suit would impact ranch families in four Eastern Washington counties that seasonally graze the national forest through grazing permits on allotments they own. As an intervenor, SCCA is allowed to defend against the allegations made by the environmental groups.
The grazing allotment system dates back to the late 1800s and the Taylor Grazing Act of the 1930s when private landowners adjoining the forest purchased grazing rights on the forest. The system was later modified to include “permits” from the national forest that the rancher must pay for each year.
SCCA filed as an intervener in the lawsuit in order to address the negative claims about grazing that ignore the benefits that include improved wildlife habitat and suppression of materials that feed forest fires. The grazing allotments also provide a needed resource to area ranches that contribute significantly to the economy in Eastern Washington.
“We know the negative claims about grazing in this lawsuit are designed to meet the political purpose of removing cows from the national forest. They are not interested in the science that shows the benefits of grazing or the important contribution family ranches make to the economy,” SCCA President Scott Nielsen said. “It’s important that common sense be brought into this discussion before the court so the real situation is represented.”
Nielsen said SCCA has chosen to allocate funds to defend the grazing allotment holders due to their support of our organization over the years.
“We have hired legal counsel and professional consultants to defend the sound, effective grazing practices that are being implemented on the CNF,” Nielsen said. “People in our community have stepped up and solidly supported us over the years because they knew when something like this came up, we’d be there.”
Nielsen noted some of the parties suing the forest service were the same groups that were involved in the collaborative planning process that was supposed to stop lawsuits from happening.
“At SCCA, we find ourselves in the unique position of defending a forest plan we did not fully support. We have always felt cautious about the ‘celebrated’ collaborative approach because we didn’t feel it would bring about fair or positive results,” Nielsen said. “Despite hundreds of hours of dedicated, involvement, negotiation and compromise by all parties, we still see certain groups resorting to lawsuits when they did not get the extreme policy changes they wanted.
“It makes one question the effectiveness of collaborating with a group that is going to negotiate for what they can through collaboration, and then sue for the rest after they are done collaborating,” Nielsen added. The case, The Lands Council v. U.S. Forest Service, is being heard in U.S. Eastern District Court in Spokane.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has taken a number of actions that are emphasizing the removal of cows and grazing to solve wolf problems at the same time the federal government has decided the predator no longer needs to be protected.
In an effort to avoid having to deal with the ongoing conflicts caused by an explosive wolf population, WDFW is looking for a way to remove cows from the landscape instead of managing wolves, according to the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association.
“There are a number of actions that show the agency favors the politically convenient option of removing cows when wolves start eating them instead of realizing wolf removal is necessary in many cases and is our current reality,” said SCCA President Scott Nielsen. “The federal government has recognized that wolves have fully recovered and no longer need special protections. The state should do likewise.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed endangered species protections for the Grey Wolf on Oct. 29.
Despite this development, WDFW continues to take actions that do not recognize that wolf populations now need to be controlled, not encouraged.
Two developments that have riled SCCA members include placing signs on the Colville National Forest asking the public to report cows they see after Nov. 1. November is typically the deadline to have cows that seasonally graze the forest removed until the following season.
“WDFW has no business interfering in the public lands management of another agency,” Nielsen said. “Asking people to report cow sightings is like asking them to report a fire, illegal campers or other undesirable activities. Cattle provided a needed service on the CNF by keeping vegetation and fuel for wildfires low. They are a desirable feature on the landscape and save taxpayers money.”
Nielsen said SCCA is also concerned about a policy proposal that would plan to grazing cattle from WDFW lands if wolves started attacking them. WDFW currently grazes some of the 1 million acres of land they own in the state.
“In our history with the agency, we know they are more inclined to take the livestock off the landscape if that looks expedient,” Nielsen said. “While we appreciate that they have removed some wolves, they often take out too few and wait until the situation is critical.”
Taking a more realistic approach to wolf management is needed, Nielsen said.
“We can see from the evidence in other states that wolf populations only continue to grow, they do not flatline,” Nielsen said. “We need a state management plan that recognizes this and aims to limit wolf numbers on an annual basis. We need a targeted plan to limit pack sizes before they get out of control.”
In an effort to ensure their industry isn’t burdened with a costly mandate that could negatively impact family ranches, the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association and the Cattle Producers of Washington have submitted comments against Radio Frequency Identification tags.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is planning to approve Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) as the official eartag for use in interstate movement of cattle that are required to be identified by the traceability regulations.
An official eartag is defined as an identification tag approved by APHIS that bears an official identification number for individual animals. Regulations allow APHIS to approve tags that can be used as official identification. Both metal and RFID tags are current options.
APHIS claims that RFID tags would support APHIS’ ongoing efforts to increase animal disease traceability by more accurately and rapidly allowing animal health officials to know where affected and at-risk animals are located.
However, cattlemen argue mandating RFID tags is unnecessary and problematic.
“This mandate would force additional cost upon our members, be less accurate in regards of long-term retention, and would also require that producers register their premises with the USDA, of which regulation we are also opposed to,” both groups noted in their comments. “The proposal will force us to incur costs that the current cattle market cannot absorb; and furthermore, we feel that it invades our rights to privacy.”
The groups note that cattlemen should have a choice regarding what form of identification they choose to use for their animals.
SCCA member and area cattleman George Wishon said along with the RFID tags being prohibitively expensive, as much as $2-$3 per tag, they are not suited to range cattle operations.
“Right now even metal ear clips that are used still have 10 to 15 percent of cattle losing the metal clip,” Wishon noted. “The retention rate for RFID tags is only 15 to 20 percent, meaning nearly 80 percent of all cattle with RFID tags will lose them.”
In addition to the impracticality, Wishon said cattlemen are concerned about the regulation that a premise ID, or an identification number for each property cattle graze on, would also be required.
“We will have cattlemen losing their leases because the landowners will not want to deal with that reporting requirement,” he said. The comment period for the regulation closed Oct. 5. APHIS is expected to determine in the coming weeks if RFID tags will become the official eartag for the interstate movement of cattle
A map showing the WDFW owned lands in Washington State.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering a proposal to remove any livestock grazing from their lands if wolves are present. The policy would affect over 1 million acres of land in Washington State.
In response, SCCA recently submitted these comments:
The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association is submitting comment in opposition to the adoption of a guidance document change that would prioritize wolf habitat above livestock grazing on WDFW lands.
Although WDFW admits in their guidance document that grazing has multiple benefits including managing vegetation and habitat; enhancing recreational opportunity; improving habitat conservation and preserving open space, it is quick to dismiss these benefits if wolves are present.
As an association whose members have absorbed the brunt of wolf attacks since 2009, we know that adopting a policy that abandons wolf management, essentially saying all other activities must stop in the presence of wolves, is unacceptable.
Simply removing livestock grazing from WDFW lands will not stop livestock depredations, as wolves will bleed out from those areas to the private property surrounding WDFW lands. In addition, the lost benefits of grazing will create environmental challenges that are not easy to overcome. Allowing vegetation to grow unchecked will create a tinderbox for devastating wildfires. Failing to use seasonal grazing to enhance recreational opportunities will result in more costly maintenance of those areas. Open space will quickly be closed in by vegetation overgrowth, doghair stands of timber and other ecological changes that create negative impacts for wildlife.
What this policy change would do is set a dangerous precedent for state and federal abandoning predator management if it becomes inconvenient.
Wolf management in this state is slow to come to the reality that wolf pack sizes MUST be managed and allowing the population to grow unchecked is a disaster. Washington is a densely populated state with 103 people per square mile. Unmanaged predator issues on public land quickly become private property problems.
In addition, the taxpayers of Washington should not be funding an agency that intends to acquire land simply to turn it into predator havens or wildlife preserves.
We are completely opposed to this change. Seasonal livestock grazing is a highly beneficial tool for managing state land and should not be trashed due to lack of management of a highly invasive predator.