Livestock News

House Ag hears livestock groups’ top Farm Bill priorities

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Four major livestock producer groups had the opportunity Tuesday to detail their top industry issues as well as their priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill with the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

The U.S. pork industry’s top priority for the next Farm Bill is establishing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank, the National Pork Producers Council told Subcommittee members.

“If this country ever had an FMD outbreak, it not only would devastate my farm and the whole livestock industry but the entire U.S. economy,” said NPPC Vice President David Herring, a pork producer from Newtown Grove, North Carolina.

To address a potential FMD outbreak, which would cost the beef, corn, pork, and soybean industries alone an estimated $200 billion over 10 years, NPPC wants the 2018 Farm Bill to direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to:

  • Contract with an offshore, vendor-maintained vaccine bank that would have available FMD antigen concentrate to protect against all 23 of the most common FMD types currently circulating in the world.
  • Maintain a vendor-managed inventory of 10 million doses of vaccine, which is the estimated need for the first two weeks of an outbreak.
  • Contract with an international manufacturer or manufacturers for the surge capacity to produce at least 40 million doses.

“We need the capacity to produce enough FMD vaccine to quickly control, then eradicate the disease, and we need the funds to make that happen,” Herring said.

In testimony, Craig Uden, a fourth-generation cattle producer from Nebraska and the president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, echoed Herrig’s comments, asking 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 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.”

“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 Chairman, Rep. David Rouzer (NC-7).

“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.

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