8/21/2018 12:00:00 AM
Cattlemen Talk Policy with Officials at Iowa State Fair
The Iowa State Fair provides an excellent opportunity for all Iowans to come together each summer to learn about and celebrate the rich agricultural heritage our state is known for. With Iowa’s congressional delegation back in their districts for the August recess, it is also perfect timing to invite elected officials to sit down to discuss cattle industry issues, take a walk through the cattle barn to catch up with constituents and congratulate young exhibitors on their accomplishments, and have a bite of beef at Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters. At the 2018 Iowa State Fair, ICA hosted state and federal officials to do just that.
Member-leaders and staff were on hand to visit with Governor Reynolds and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, congressional representatives including Senator Joni Ernst, Congressman David Young, Congressman Steve King, and Congressman Dave Loebsack, and even a couple of regulatory appointees, EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler and Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Brian Quintenz.
ICA leaders took these opportunities to continue building key relationships with these leaders and also discuss important policy issues developed through ICA’s grassroots process, including trade, the 2018 Farm Bill, regulation of fake meat products, labor needs, electronic logging device and hours of service regulation, and oversight of cattle futures trading.
Below is an update on some of the federal issues ICA is currently working on:
Trade & Market Access:
Cattlemen and women support open markets and science-based trade. Beef exports account for around $300 a head for U.S. producers.
NAFTA renegotiation is a top priority. There is optimism that a bi-lateral deal with Mexico may be complete by early September which would bring Canada back to the table to work out a trade agreement as well.
Cattlemen are also concerned about the impacts of trade dispute with China. Though the Chinese market for beef remains relatively underdeveloped, the devastating effect on the pork industry will negatively impact beef too by bringing more pork on to the domestic market and forcing beef to compete at a lower price. Though China’s bad acts of intellectual property theft cannot be ignored, unrestricted access to the Chinese market is crucial for American agriculture.
2018 Farm Bill:
The House and Senate have passed different versions of the Farm Bill and the next step is Conference Committee. Conferees have been announced and include Senator Ernst.
ICA's priorities include full funding for the Food and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank. Iowa is one of the most livestock dense states, which puts us at increased risk of having a disease outbreak and means that we have the most to lose. An FMD outbreak would be catastrophic, not only for the livestock industry, but our state and nation’s economy. The $150 million/year for 5 years to fully fund an FMD vaccine bank is an inexpensive way to protect from loss estimated to be over $128 billion over ten years for the beef and pork industries alone.
In the conservation title, ICA encouraged the delegation to protect EQIP funding, improve CRP by increasing the opportunity to integrate cattle production through haying and grazing. Cattlemen would also like to see the Farm Bill improve the accuracy of U.S. Drought Monitor for disaster relief, protect trade promotion programs (Market Access Program & Foreign Market Development) and maintain research funding
Electronic Logging Device/Hours of Service Regulation:
Combined with Hours of Service requirements, this mandate would eliminate needed flexibility for livestock haulers to get livestock to their destination without compromising animal health or welfare. Livestock haulers are currently under an extension for compliance (do not currently have to comply with ELD mandate) and the Senate recently passed a one-year extension for delay. A House committee has passed the same language, but it still needs to pass full House. Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate (sponsored by Iowans) that would provide long-term solutions to HOS rules and the Department of Transportation is still considering a petition, supported by ICA, that requests a five-year ELD waiver for livestock haulers. The Department has not indicated when they will respond to the petition.
Growing popularity of plant-based and lab-cultured alternative proteins has led to the need for a decision on how these products will be regulated. ICA seeks to protect consumers from misleading labels and protect the beef industry from disparaging labels such as “clean meat."
ICA supports House Ag Appropriations language that supports regulation of fake meat products by USDA (not FDA). FDA did not enforce labeling rules for plant-based products claiming to be “milk” and USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is the premier public health agency for regulating meat and poultry products and is perfectly capable of regulating production that does not involve slaughter. In fact, 67% of the facilities that FSIS inspects are “processing only,” meaning they do not slaughter live animals.
Shortage of labor continues to be a limiting factor for Iowa livestock producers to expand their operations. The industry needs a legal path for immigrants to be in the U.S. to fill jobs in all sectors, especially meat processing. HR 6417 Ag and Legal Workforce Act has been introduced in House and focuses on the ag labor issue.
About the Iowa Cattlemen's Association: The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association represents nearly 10,000 beef-producing families and associated companies dedicated to the future of Iowa’s beef industry. ICA’s mission is “Grow Iowa’s beef business through advocacy, leadership and education."