Taking a bite out of the Farm Bill
As Congress continues to trim the federal budget, the axe may fall on programs affecting public health, as well as the ag industry. The issues range from ticks and pseudorabies to Country-of-Origin Labeling, and could impact Texas adversely.
For more than a year, the cattle and ag industries have been divided over two programs in the 2008 Farm Bill -- Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers And Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) livestock marketing rule.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association even approved a resolution during its winter conference, to eliminate the Livestock Title (Title XI) within the proposed 2012 Farm Bill. This includes not only the two above programs, but animal health issues, such as fever tick eradication and pseudorabies, as well. (See “NCBA” for the resolution passed, and “Title XI -- Livestock” for more on these issues.)
Bill Hyman, executive director of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas (ICA) -- an affiliate group of the NCBA -- confirmed Feb. 28 that the ICA delegate cast a vote in opposition of the national resolution.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar confirmed Feb. 28 that the debate is ongoing. He said he will fight not only for his constituents, but the ranchers as well, due to the issue of fever tick eradication.
“While there is ongoing debate on the removal of the Livestock Title from the 2012 Farm Bill,” Cuellar said, “reducing funding for fever tick eradication is not an issue I am willing to negotiate as I currently work with other Agriculture Committee members on new and innovative ways to assist ranchers.”
For more on the proposed cuts, see related article, below.
The resolution to eliminate the Livestock Title in the 2012 Farm Bill, found on the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) website, reads:
“Cattlemen’s top priority for the 2012 Farm Bill is to eliminate the livestock title, which resulted in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administrations’ (GIPSA) livestock marketing rule as well as Country-of-Origin Labeling. In addition, cattlemen urge Congress to include a permanent fix for remaining GIPSA rule provisions that were not finalized in 2011.”
The Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas’ state delegate to the NCBA cast a vote opposing elimination.
Title XI -- Livestock
Two sections of the Livestock Title in the 2012 Farm Bill that are causing concern because of possible elimination include:
•Section 11007. Sense of Congress regarding Pseudorabies Eradication Program: “It is the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Agriculture should recognize the threat feral swine pose to the domestic swine population and the entire livestock industry; keeping the United States commercial swine herd free of pseudorabies is essential to maintaining and growing pork export markets; ... pseudorabies eradication is a high priority that the Secretary should carry out under the authorities of the Animal Health Protection Act.”
•Section 11008. Sense of Congress regarding cattle fever tick eradication program: “It is the sense of Congress that the cattle fever tick and the southern cattle tick are vectors of the causal agent of babesiosis, a severe and often fatal disease of cattle; and implementing a national strategic plan for the cattle fever tick eradication program is a high priority that the Secretary of Agriculture should carry out in order to prevent the entry of cattle fever ticks into the United States; ... research, identify, and procure the tools and knowledge necessary to prevent and eradicate cattle fever ticks in the United States.
Source: 110th Congress Public Law 234, from the U.S. Government Printing Office