NCBA, PLC members advocate in D.C.
Washington, D.C. – “We’re here to put more boots on the ground in Capitol Hill,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Kevin Kester of California during the 2018 NCBA and Public Lands Council Legislative Fly-In, held April 10-12 in Washington, D.C. “This week provides the chance for ranchers to affect the change we need here in Washington, D.C.”
Capitol Hill has been busy since December, said Kester, who noted that the engagement of public lands ranchers elevates the message of Congressmen and women advocating for change in D.C. and creates a home-town connection into grassroots efforts.
During the opening sessions of the event, Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) also addressed members. Yoho serves on the House Committee for Agriculture and Foreign Affairs Committee. He is one of two veterinarians serving in Congress.
“When ranchers come to Capitol Hill, I feel like I’m back home,” Yoho said. “They add a different flair of what makes America great.”
Yoho noted he feels honored to serve on the House Ag Committee, and he said, “With the number of people involved in agriculture and what’s going on here in D.C., we need a stronger voice on the Agriculture Committee, and we have to have advocates for the industry.”
In his first year in Congress, the 2014 Farm Bill was being developed, and he noted that his first meeting was with the Republican Conference, where one senior member of Congress asked, “Why do we need a farm bill? Shouldn’t we just import our food?”
“To think that people think we should import our food is very dangerous,” Yoho mentioned. “George Washington said if we want a secure nation, we need a secure food source. A lot of conflicts around the world are because there is food insecurity in a lot of nations. We are so blessed in this nation, with the land, the resources, water and the type of soil that we have – and then we have the people who work the soil, work the cattle and feed the country and the world.”
“If we look at every state in the union, ag is either the first or second economic driver in the state,” Yoho said. “The reason America has the most abundance of food, the highest quality of food and the lowest price per capita of any nation is because of the safety net programs that reduce risk and mitigate that risk for farmers and ranchers.”
The 2014 Farm Bill came in at about $900 billion, about 80 percent of which is in the nutrition title.
In addition, the 2018 bill is slated at under $800 billion.
“We can’t get rid of a farm bill. We need it,” he emphasized. “The reforms we have in the bills are good reforms.”
Yoho explained that reforms in pasture management and other aspects are positive for the industry, and reform in nutrition title is the best he has seen during his tenure in Congress.
The 2018 Farm Bill, formally title H.R. 2 Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, was introduced on April 12, but there is widely mixed opinion on whether or not Congress will be able to pass the bill this year.
As they begin to work toward passing the 2018 Farm Bill, Yoho said, “My hope is to get the farm bill pushed through the first time.”
“I bet we’re going to see a farm bill this year,” Yoho continued, adding that House Ag Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) has worked hard to answer questions before releasing the bill and targeted potential problem areas by educating others.
“The nutrition title is going to be the hang-up,” he said. “Chairman Conaway has gone through methodically to reform the bill and answer questions.”
Markup on the bill will begin on April 18, and Yoho said they will work “24-7” to markup the bill and bring it to the House floor.
“Our goal is to pass it the first time,” he added. “The way we do that is work with our opponents in the House – and then work in the Senate, to educate them.”
With a number of titles in the farm bill that are misunderstood by Congressmen, Yoho noted “Farm Bill 101” sessions will be held to help inform others and eliminate arguments that result from lack of education.
He added, “I feel very confident we’ll get it passed by the end of this Congress.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.