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Woodall: Mid-term elections bring challenges for beef industry

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Democratic party took control of the House of Representatives in Nov. 6’s election, with Democrats picking up at least 26 GOP-held seats. 

Republicans preserved their majority in the Senate. 

“The results leave President Donald Trump with a choice,” said Farm Progress. “He can reach for bipartisan deals in areas such as infrastructure and healthcare or stick to a well-worn strategy of stoking passions on immigration and other divisive issues to maintain enthusiasm with his supporters.” 
With a variety of agriculture-related bills up in the air, including but not limited to the 2018 Farm Bill, America’s rural communities have voiced concern about the path forward. 

Following the elections, Colin Woodall, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) senior vice president of government affairs, said the organization will continue to focus on passing a farm bill as Democrats take control of the House. 

Woodall said NCBA was prepared for a split congress and is not surprised by this outcome. 

“We were prepared for this, and we anticipated this to be one of the potential outcomes,” he said. “If history is an indicator, this will be a race to the finish line to get as much legislation through as possible.”

Farm bill

In the short term, the farm bill remains an urgent matter and will be a top priority in the lame duck session as the time of Republican control wraps up.

Woodall reported that ranking House Agriculture Committee Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) is on board to pass the farm bill without a total rewrite, which spells good news for producers across the board. 

Peterson also said he had the full support of the Democratic leadership for finalizing a bill in the lame duck session.

Woodall added Peterson has also supported NCBA’s priority issue of funding an foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank within the farm bill. 

Other priorities

Other top priorities for the lame duck session include language on fake meat. 

In a recent edition of Beltway Beef, NCBA urged its members to submit commentary in support of USDA regulation of lab grown meat specimens as opposed to Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority. 

“Outside of the farm bill and updating language on the foot-and-mouth disease vaccine and electronic logging device regulations, I doubt much else will get done before the end of 2018,” said Woodall. 

Additionally, Woodall stressed the importance of reforming the Endangered Species Act. 

“We have spent years working with outside groups to create a bill that everyone can work around, and the Senate Environment and Public Works committee did nothing with it,” said Woodall. “Now, our opportunity has passed with Rep. Raul Grijalva as the House Natural Resources Committee Chair. He won’t touch anything with the endangered species act attached.” 

Woodall fears the change in power may stop any modernization of the Endangered Species Act in the foreseeable future. 

“We may never have another opportunity in our careers at NCBA,” he commented.

Woodall says NCBA will continue to work with friends in the Democratic Party to help secure the interests of cattleman and work through the newly split congress. 

“The thing that everyone needs to understand is, just because there is change does not mean we are dead in the water,” said Woodall. “We will simply have to retool on how to operate in a split congress.” 

Bigger picture

In the long term, Woodall predicts this split congress will result in gridlock, with little legislation actually passed. 

“The Democratic House will spend time on congressional oversight of the Trump administration,” said Woodall. 

Woodall predicted the Senate will spend time trying to thwart any house legislation and get as many Trump nominations through as possible. This will limit the amount of actual legislation that gets through congress. 

Though a congress is often judged by the amount of legislation passed, it is not always a bad thing, said Woodall, noting, “A congress that doesn’t do much and leaves us alone is a good congress.” 

Callie Hansen is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to 

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