Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster Ron Hays is featuring comments from the Vice President of Government Affairs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Ethan Lane. While in Washington, D.C., Farm Director KC Sheperd had the chance to visit with Lane about priorities for cattle producers in the 2023 farm bill.
Lane first talked about how a divided government will play a role in making decisions for the farm bill.
“Sometimes that means opportunity,” Lane said. “People kind of have to work together. The more narrow that divide is, the more you kind of have to figure it out amongst the different groups. That is certainly the position we kind of find ourselves in now.”
One feature of the past 10 to 15 years, Lane said, is that some individuals do not want to learn about the cattle industry, as it would be easier for them to vote against it.
“There is a lot of education going on,” Lane said. “Not just in the cattle industry but just agriculture in general. In a farm bill year, ‘no’ is not necessarily what you want to hear, so a lot of education, a lot of helping folks understand why there is some give and take in these bills, but also understanding that these members come to town with some priorities and things they think need to be changed.”
Lane talked about some of the highlights the 2018 bill included for cattle producers and what he would like to see in the 2023 farm bill.
“Certainly, getting funding in place for a vaccine bank to make sure we are adequately prepared for foot and mouth disease,” Lane said. “We didn’t get as much funding for that bank as we had hoped, but something is better than nothing.”
If an FMD outbreak was to hit the cattle industry, Lane said estimates say it would cost cattle producers 57 million dollars per day, not to mention the larger economy.
Lane said there was also some movement in acknowledging the need for more flexibility in allowing cattle producers to graze and manage fuel loads for wildfires.
“Big focus still on risk management tools,” Lane said. “We have seen, since Covid, huge engagement for risk management programs, like livestock risk protection, that previously our producers were not that interested in. They have made enough changes to make it an attractive program. Those programs are not authorized in the farm bill, but those resources sure support them.”
With a tight financial environment, Lane said it is important not to let any programs that may help producers during this time fall through the cracks.
“We have producers finally finding programs that work for them,” Lane said. “We don’t want to turn our back on that right now. We want to lean into it and make sure we ‘plus’ that up and make sure that is really viable for our cow-calf producers, particularly small cow-calf producers who haven’t always had very many options for managing risk.”
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