At the National Association of Farm Broadcasters’ annual trade talk for 2022, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, caught up with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs, Ethan Lane, talking about the 2023 Farm Bill and concerns for the cattle industry going forward.
Regarding Congressman Frank Lucas being back on the Farm Bill committee in 2023, Lane said that Lucas will be a valuable resource as he has a great understanding of the Farm Bill.
“He will be a fantastic resource for Chairman Thompson coming into this, and we are sure excited to see him back in that conversation,” Lane said. “There are very few people in Washington that are as good a friend of the cattle industry as Frank Lucas is, and we are excited to have him back in this arena.”
NCBA priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill, Lane said, involve continuing to focus on holding together programs that were in the last farm bill. One program that is top of mind, Ethan said, is keeping the vaccine bank for foot and mouth disease funded and growing.
“That is four years and now to building that bank out,” Lane said. “They have a lot more work to do, and we need to make sure we don’t lose ground on that, especially as we see new needs, whether it is increased risk of African swine fever, the lumpy skin disease, or some of these other things we are seeing pop up. Not that they aren’t important too, but we need to make sure we continue to make progress on that front.”
Risk management for producers, Lane said, has become a big issue around the country. Cow calf producers are asking for more tools, Lane added, and they are seeing a dramatic increase in the use of the tools that are available.
“That is certainly something that remains at the top of cattle producers list is keeping those voluntary incentive-based conservation programs going in a way that is very useful for them to keep the needle moving in the right direction,” Lane said. “We have our climate goal of being climate neutral or climate positive in this industry by 2040. We think we are going to hit that early, and a lot of these programs in the farm bill provide the necessary resources and tools to make that happen.”
There continues to be a market conversation that has taken place over the past few years with plenty of congressional scrutiny. The industry is in the middle of a pilot program implementation for the cattle contract library, Lane said, which is important in identifying how much information USDA needs, where they get it from, and most importantly, where the money is being made.
This program will aid producers in seeing where they need to adjust their operations to have a higher success rate based on what others in the industry are doing.
“That is going to be a really important tool, I think, for producers around the country,” Lane said. “We appreciate USDA sticking with that. We are not there yet on quite how that needs to look to make sure we protect the producer’s privacy. USDA is a government agency, and as such, they tend to default to, ‘give me as much information as possible,’ and we just don’t necessarily believe that they need every private business detail of every cattle producer in the country in order to display some information on what contracts look like.”
Lane said he is hopeful to see a full five-year reauthorization in mandatory price reporting.
“I am hopeful that as we get into the new congress and kind of have a chance to hit the reset button, you know, if there is some bipartisan agreement that it is time to go ahead and get that done, maybe that is something we can work on next year,” Lane said. “We would sure like to do that.”
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