Will Farm Bill dry up in Congress like crops in 2012 drought?
With the 2012 drought affecting a vast section of the United States, including the Corn Belt region, farmers and ranchers are concerned about the financial setback the drought will have. Much-needed funding could be in jeopardy, as the 2012 Farm Bill languishes in Congress.
Already, two national cattle associations are divided on two of the provisions included in the House Agricultural Committee version of the 2012 Farm Bill -- Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is clear about its opposition, and even approved a resolution last year to repeal the Livestock Title in the 2008 Farm Bill and to eliminate both the COOL and Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration programs.
U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer sponsored an amendment for the United States to be in compliance with the decision of the World Trade Organization regarding COOL. For more, see “COOL talks heat up Farm Bill debate,” July 18.
U.S. Cattlemen’s Association President Jon Wooster said in a July 17 press release, “Congress does not need to tamper with the law as it is written, nor do we need congressional interference as this process is worked out. It is unfortunate that opponents of COOL are once again using any platform available to them, including the new farm bill, to undermine the law. U.S. cattle producers have the right to differentiate their product in retail cases from that of our foreign competitors, and consumers deserve meaningful, truthful labeling about the origin of their meat.”
The second provision in the House version of the Farm Bill, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Michael Conaway and Jim Costa, relates to the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).
If approved, all GIPSA rules already implemented would be repealed and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be prohibited from continuing the program.
According to the U.S. Cattlemen’s press release, Costa and Conaway maintained that the GIPSA regulations “went beyond congressional intent.”
While the amendment coincides with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association resolution, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association called the Conaway amendment “a harmful setback for independent cattle producers and feeders.”
“Thousands of cattle producers across the country support the effort by GIPSA and the Department of Justice to clarify language in antitrust laws and strengthen provisions related to anticompetitive practices in the U.S. livestock industry,” said U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Vice President Chuck Kiker of Beaumont. “The competitive dysfunction in fed cattle markets will be further aggravated by an inevitable abuse of the cash market if Congress fails to properly fund and support matters like the GIPSA rule.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association contends on its website, “The GIPSA Rule jeopardizes Alternative Marketing Arrangements (AMAs) that allow cattlemen to get paid for value they add.” The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration “takes away incentives to pay premiums and other economic incentives to produce higher quality beef production.”
The group contends that the marketing regulation would:
•“Reduce the U.S. GDP [Gross Domestic Product] by $14 billion
•Put 104,000 Americans out of work
•Increase retail prices by 3.33 percent
•Reduce consumer demand by 1.68 percent.”
With the 2008 Farm Bill set to expire Sept. 30, members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee have sent a letter to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.
The letter reads, in part, “The House Agriculture Committee passed H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act, or the 2012 Farm Bill, on July 12th with a strong bipartisan vote of 35-11. While by no means perfect, this farm bill is needed for producers and those who rely on sound agriculture policy and nutrition programs during difficult economic times. ...
“We all share the goal of giving small businesses certainty in these challenging times. Agriculture supports nearly 16 million jobs nationwide and over 45 million people are helped each year by the nutrition programs in the farm bill. ...
“The message from our constituents and rural America is clear: we need a farm bill now. We ask that you bring the farm bill up before the August Work Period so that the House will have the opportunity to work its will. We ask that you make this legislation a priority of the House as it is critically important to rural and urban Americans alike.”
Among the signers are Reps. Henry Cuellar and Randy Neugebauer.
Two questions remain.
Will the 2012 Farm Bill be voted on by the present Congress or will it be delayed due to political campaigns? And will these two programs make it to the final version of the Farm Bill where they could fade and die, like crops in the dry, parched ground?