Addressing cattle marketing challenges as discussions on farm bill begin
Washington, D.C. – During a March 20 Beltway Beef podcast, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane converses with Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Glenn “GT” Thompson about the industry’s critical need for input as discussions regarding the farm bill begin and what can be done to address cattle marketing challenges.
Keeping the agriculture footprint going
“We did 130 total hearings and listening sessions in the 2018 Farm Bill process, this year we have done three,” shares Thompson. “The 2018 Farm Bill was one of the most successful bills we have ever done because of the number of voices brought to the table.”
As a ranking member, Thompson doesn’t schedule the hearings or listening sessions, he notes, but spends a lot of time traveling the country promoting and representing the ag industry.
“Most recently I’ve sat down with cattlemen in southern California and been on feedlots in different parts of the country,” he says. “I’m looking forward to bringing and encouraging all members – Republicans and Democrats – along. When we travel and go to different states, we hear first-hand from farmers, ranchers and foresters. We are able to visit feedlots and processing plants because you learn so much by doing this.”
Being involved has always been a part of the farm bill process and it is important committee members get out and continue to get involved, he shares.
“We have a deadline when it comes to the current farm bill, which expires on Sept. 30, 2023,” he says. “It’s more than the food on our plate, it’s the rural economy – anything essential we have in life, most of these things come from a farm some place, ranch or forestry operation.”
Thompson feels a climate change title doesn’t need to be in the farm bill.
“What we need to do is give credit to the American ranchers, farmers and foresters for what they do,” he notes. “For too long there has been a bullseye on the back of all of these folks and families who work so hard to provide food and fiber.”
Farmers, ranchers and foresters are really the ones who are getting it done for a healthier environment and economy, he says.
“We have to start with what we know works and it’s really with the farm bill programs we have,” he explains. “In the upcoming farm bill priorities – our hearings and informational gathering sessions – risk management tools are a top priority and focus.”
Several risk management tools have been important for producers, he continues, “Prior to the 2018 Farm Bill there was a cap on the amount of livestock insurance to be sold which was lifted in the bi-partisan budget act of 2018.”
“Prior to this change roughly $500 million of liability was covered in livestock policies, and this year alone it is estimated at roughly $13 billion,” explains Thompson.
“We have to make sure all of these risk management tools remain available for livestock producers,” he adds. “We need NCBA’s help defending the crop insurance program when it comes to reauthorizing the farm bill – there is always going to be those voices out there who absolutely do not understand agriculture.”
Thompson predicts amendments will be made to negatively impact crop insurance and livestock operations, but he plans to work diligently to defeat motions and amendments negatively impacting the industry.
“We do this by educating members and staff – when we say risk management in agriculture – it’s explaining and proposing what we actually mean,” he says.
and cattle marketing
Thompson shares he is always in favor of private, industry led solutions. He acknowledges the hard work of several organizations who have devoted a lot of time and effort to improve market conditions not through mandates, but with programs which will better serve the industry.
“When the government gets involved it’s important to focus on and remember the unintended consequences – this is one of the issues with these mandates,” he mentions. “When the affected industry doesn’t quite agree on the exact problem, defining the problem first of all or the extent of the problem, it then really becomes even more difficult to find a silver bullet or solution by the way of a government program or mandate.”
Thompson suspects with a mandate the industry would experience more unintended consequences than positive intended consequences.
“The industry as a whole really coalesces around the concept of the cattle contract library – it’s not the silver bullet but it’s a great tool to put in the toolbox,” he mentions. “We need to work together as we try to provide producers with some more valuable marketing information in making decisions.”
“We have the capacity to do great bipartisan work on behalf of agriculture and rural America,” Thompson concludes. “I look forward to continue to be part of this leadership in whatever capacity going forward.”
For more information or to listen to future episodes of the Beltway Beef podcast, visit ncba.org.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.