Cattlemen delegation address key issues
COURTESTY PHOTO/U.S. Cattlemen’s Association
U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) Executive Vice President Jess Peterson (far left) leads a USCA delegation in meetings with members of Congress and staff on Capitol Hill, including a meeting with U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Ed Avalos (seventh from right), during a mid-July fly-in to Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association wrapped up its second Washington, D.C., fly-in of the year. The cattlemen’s delegation included ranchers from Texas, North Dakota, Kansas, Montana, Virginia, and Maryland. Representing Texas were U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Vice President Chuck Kiker of Beaumont and Storme Jannise and Stacie Jannise, both of Hamshire.
The July 18-19 fly-in came on the heels of the House Agriculture Committee’s passage of the House Farm Bill, the “Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012” (aka the 2012 Farm Bill). The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association is urging House members to expedite the Farm Bill debate by bringing the legislation to the floor for a full House vote but warned that it will oppose two amendments attached to the House bill regarding country of origin labeling (COOL) and the proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration regulations rule.
“These two amendments are central issues for USCA [U.S. Cattlemen’s Association] and we will continue to urge members to support a repeal of both measures once the bill reaches the floor and then conference committee,” Kiker said.
The cattlemen’s association was disappointed in the House passage of several amendments to the 2012 Farm Bill, including Rep. Randy Neugebauer’s provision which could jeopardize one of the cattlemen’s priority issues, the COOL statute.
U.S. Cattlemen’s Association’s “members met with their respective lawmakers concerning what USCA considers the pros and cons of the House Farm Bill and urged the House leadership to bring the bill to the House floor for consideration and debate as quickly as possible,” Kiker said. “... Most of the nation’s agriculture producers are suffering through a disastrous drought and many have been affected by wildfires. Crops have been decimated, entire cow herds are being sold off because of a lack of forage, and overhead costs are skyrocketing. Ag lending institutions look to federal farm policy programs and safeguards for added confidence. Since the current farm bill expires at the end of September, enacting farm policy should be a priority for Congress prior to the summer recess so producers and their lenders can plan for the future.”
During the fly-in, cattlemen also met with officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. During these meetings, the cattlemen’s delegation reiterated its support for COOL along with the need to maintain high health and safety standards by not weakening U.S. barriers to foot-and-mouth disease. The cattlemen also provided input on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed animal traceability plan.
“Key issues like estate tax reform, strengthening the Packers and Stockyards Act, and importance of continually increasing exports of U.S. beef” were also addressed, said U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Deputy Director of Government and Industry Relations Kelly Fogarty.