Subcommittee examines livestock producer perspectives on next farm bill
Rep. David Rouzer, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, held a hearing March 22 to gather perspectives from key members of the livestock community as part of the committee’s hearing series on the next farm bill. Members of the committee heard from representatives of four major livestock producer groups who discussed the issues facing their respective industries as well as their priorities for the upcoming farm bill.
“From onerous federal rules and regulations to cattle fever ticks to foot-and-mouth disease, it’s no secret our nation’s livestock producers are facing numerous, serious challenges. As we gear up for the next farm bill, it is vital to hear firsthand how all of these issues impact the operations and production of our livestock and which USDA programs and initiatives are helpful in mitigating these harmful impacts so that we can make the necessary modifications to the next farm bill to alleviate some of the challenges our farm families and communities face,” said Rouzer.
“Beyond contending with the challenges of Mother Nature, including the devastating wildfires that spread across parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas over the past two weeks, livestock producers have also been plagued with a variety of ill-conceived regulatory burdens like the failed mandatory country-of-origin labeling experiment and the so-called GIPSA rules that threaten the unique marketing arrangements producers have worked so hard to develop. Beyond ensuring that producers have the tools they need to succeed, I am committed to working with industry and the administration to continue efforts to roll back these problematic regulations and to ensure new ones do not make their way into the next farm bill,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway.
NCBA president testifies on cattlemen’s priorities for 2018 Farm Bill
In testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Craig Uden, a fourth-generation cattle producer from Nebraska and the president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, called on Congress to authorize $150 million a year over five years for a “stronger and more adequate foot-and-mouth disease (FMB) vaccine bank” as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Uden testified before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.
“Foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious and has the potential to spread widely and rapidly, debilitating our herds,” Uden warned subcommittee members in his oral testimony. “Analysts estimate that an FMD outbreak in the United States could potentially cost our nation’s livestock producers billions of dollars in the first 12 months alone. An FMD outbreak has the potential to cause enormous economic losses to not only livestock producers, but also to auction markets, slaughterhouses, food processors and related industries.”
Uden also testified that the vast majority of cattlemen oppose the federal government’s involvement in determining how their cattle are marketed – whether through vehicles like Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA’s) interim final rule on competitive injury or through mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (mCOOL.)
“Our analysis of the (GIPSA) rule leads us to believe that if this rule is implemented, the packers will offer one price for all cattle, regardless of quality,” Uden testified. “We believe this rule would eliminate value-based marketing programs and negatively impact producers, making it more difficult to provide the types of beef products that consumers are clamoring for.”
Uden continued on the issue of mandatory, government-dictated, country-of-origin labeling: “Repeal of the previous mandatory program was necessary since, after six and a half years of implementation, it provided no market benefit to beef producers or consumers. On top of that, it also violated trade agreements with two of our largest and vital trading partners.”
Uden concluded his Farm Bill testimony by stressing the importance of international trade to the American beef industry.
“Trade is vital to the beef industry, and protecting trade promotion programs such as the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Programs within the 2018 Farm Bill are important,” Uden said. “Ninety-six percent of the world’s consumers reside outside U.S. borders. We recognize that the growth and profitability of the U.S. cattle and beef industry is closely tied to our ability to market our products to those consumers.”