Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is back visiting with the vice president of governmental affairs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Ethan Lane, about the 2023 Farm Bill.
One of the items that NCBA is pushing back against is a separate livestock title within the farm bill.
“If you put up a Christmas tree, your next step is to start hanging ornaments on it, right,” Lane said. “No one ever hangs one ornament on the Christmas tree. Usually, you have the other problem and you run out of branches to hang the ornaments on. Congress kind of works that way too. If you build it, they will come.”
Looking at a livestock title, Lane said there are not enough “must-do” things that are not taken care of in other parts of the farm bill.
“We don’t have a subsidy program to protect, right, we don’t have Title I programs,” Lane said. “Because of that, the need for a livestock title simply isn’t there unless it is just there for people to insert and fill up with whatever ideas they happen to come up with, or think might be interesting to explore, and you never want to give the federal government that much ‘blank slate’ running room to just kind of come up with things to talk about.”
Creating a livestock title that is not necessary, and filling it up, Lane said, is not a productive use of committee and stakeholder time.
The livestock risk protection program, Lane said, has been the dominant conversation in cattle meetings.
“Producers are finding that to be a much more attractive option than they did a few years ago,” Lane said. “May of 2020, the terms of that program were changed. The subsidy level was adjusted, and it was made far more attractive to cattle producers. We have seen them respond to that and engage with that program. It is not perfect, and it is not a complete solution to the risk management gap we have on the cow-calf side. We have a lot more work to do because this is something we are committed to at NCBA, this is something we have in policy, and something we are working really hard on is building out more tools for those smaller cow-calf producers to make sure they can manage risk just like the big boys do, just like other parts of the supply chain do.”
Regarding action against the big four packers, Lane said NCBA has continued to ask for updates, but the DOJ speaks through indictments.
“I remind people DOJ (United States Department of Justice) is not like other federal agencies,” Lane said. “They don’t speak in other press releases, they don’t go to the podium and say, ‘hey, here’s an update on all the secret details that we found.’”
If there is a problem the cattle industry needs to be aware of, Lane said he is hopeful the DOJ will bring that issue to light.
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