Challenging Political Dynamic in Washington, D.C. Makes for Slow Appropriations and Farm Bill Progress

NCBA’s Ethan Lane
Listen to Ron Hays talk with Ethan Lane about the appropriations process and more.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster Ron Hays is back talking with the Vice President of Governmental Affairs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Ethan Lane, about the appropriation bills for this fiscal year 2024 that will impact beef cattle producers.

“There is a lot of good stuff in there for the cattle industry,” Lane said. “There are about 15 million dollars to pay for electronic ear tags for our producers to comply with this rulemaking we think is coming from USDA on animals moving interstate over 18 months. That is going to be expensive, and we have worked hard to make sure our producers aren’t bearing the cost of complying with that.”

Lane said that the FDA appropriations also includes points to prohibit ELD (Electronic Logging Devices) devices for livestock haulers, prohibits listing the greater sage-grouse as an endangered species, prohibits the EPA from monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions from livestock operations, and more.

“The reality is, Speaker Johnson has a House Republican conference that is not working as a team right now,” Lane said. “He has got that freedom caucus element that votes against basically everything. With a two-seat majority, his negotiating power is greatly diminished when going up against the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats in the White House.”

Because freedom caucus members in the House Republican conference do not agree, Lane said passing a bill becomes much more complicated.

“He has to pass that bill under what they call the suspension count,” Lane said. “The suspension bypasses the rules committee, goes straight to the floor, and requires a higher threshold. Two-thirds of House members have to vote in favor of the bill. That means you must have Democrats to pass it, which means that while Mike Johnson would like to have included all of these writers and make it a much more conservative bill coming out of the House, he now has to attract Democrats to the bill, which means watering that bill down.”

Although Speaker Johnson must deal with this frustrating set of circumstances, Lane said that is the reality of the current situation in the House of Representatives. This bill is expected to move through Congress and be signed by the president, and then the second half of the appropriations process will commence.

Editor’s Note- the bill passed the House on Wednesday 229-85 and awaits action in the Senate.

While many hope the second half of the appropriations process will bring us closer to a Farm Bill, Lane said things going forward might not be shy of complications.

“You start talking about a 1.4 trillion-dollar farm bill and the vast majority of that going to programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) that have a lot of opposition on their growth from Republicans in Congress, you have some unresolved issues with what to do with that 20 billion, now probably more like 15 billion in conservation spending out of the Inflation Reduction Act from a couple of years ago,” Lane said. “There are some unresolved questions there, and I think that work is going to continue through this year.”

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR at the top of the story for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.

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