By Roxana Hegeman - Associated Press
WICHITA - Hundreds of cattle producers struggling in drought will
converge in Wichita this week to hear Republican political strategist
Karl Rove give his take on the recent presidential election and what it
means for the nation and its agricultural sector.
Rove, who served as senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to former
President George W. Bush, will be the featured speaker Wednesday before a
sold out crowd at the opening of the Kansas Livestock Association's
About 600 people are expected to hear Rove speak at Wednesday evening's
banquet, and about 800 cattlemen are expected to attend the three-day
convention, KLA spokesman Todd Domer said.
"Our folks will be very interested in what the results of the recent
election mean not only for agriculture, but for the U.S. economy and try
to make sense of that as it applies to our industry," Domer said.
Among the political issues of concern to Kansas cattle producers and
feedlots are dust regulations considered by the Environmental Protection
Agency, water regulations and taxes, he said. Cattlemen also are
interested in hearing whether Rove thinks a deal can be reached to avoid
the "fiscal cliff," a package of sharp tax increases and spending cuts
that will take effect next year unless Congress and the White House
This year's convention comes amid one of the worst droughts in the
nation's history. With grazing land dried up, hay production down and
hay prices high, many ranchers have sold off large portions of herds
they can't afford to feed.
Randy Blach, executive vice president of CattleFax, which tracks the
beef industry, is scheduled to speak Friday about the outlook for
ranchers, feedlots and dairymen. The market analyst is also expected to
offer suggestions on how producers can deal with the higher costs and
volatile markets seen in the past few years.
"One of the more important reasons to hold the KLA convention is the
rancher-to-rancher information exchange that takes place, and I know
that the drought will drive a lot of conversations that take place
outside of the educational spectrum that everybody sees at the KLA
convention," Domer said.
Many of the discussions held in hallways and during meals will likely
center around ways ranchers are working to keep their herds together or
to provide water and feed.
"There are a lot of real, big challenges out there right now," Domer
said. "And sometimes those are best solved through the peer network."