Midterm election: November election has potential to impact cattle industry
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Beltway Beef podcast welcomed NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane on Oct. 21 to discuss the November election’s potential impact on the cattle industry. Lane discusses the impact anti-ag activists have on the election, how the election will impact the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and explains NCBA’s role in educating new members of Congress on the cattle industry.
House and Senate
Lane expects to see extremely narrow margins for this election, with fairly balanced committees as far as Republicans and Democrats. He says Democrats will “retool” going into a farm bill year.
“We have already seen this a bit, as far as the ag committee, with who they are putting into these positions,” he says. “Typically, they will start to load in members from more urban districts focused more on food assistance programs – things like this will be their priority going into the farm bill process.”
Lane says even with a narrow margin, control comes down to the agenda and what is allowed to move forward.
“Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA), as the new incoming presumptive chairman of the House of Ag Committee should Republicans take control of the House, is a strong advocate for the cattle industry and a strong advocate for ag. This alone is a massive game changer empowering him in the position,” he says.
Lane anticipates many “farm state” members will be coming to Washington, D.C. as new members of the freshman class.
“This will bring some new helpful voices which understand agriculture and want to be helpful, and that’s always a good thing,” he says.
Lane says this influx of new members may lead to a “logjam” of members wanting to be on the same committees.
“There are a lot of ways for folks to help NCBA and support the industry on Capitol Hill other than just the ag committee, so we will be watching all of those races and hoping the steering committee makes good choices in populating those committees with folks who are willing to get some things done,” Lane adds.
Lane says “less is more” when it comes to the work being done during the lame-duck session, which is when Congress is in session after a November election and before the beginning of the new Congress.
“We don’t want to see a bunch of activity and last minute panic legislating in a lame-duck session,” he says.
Democratic and Republican motives will differ greatly during this lame-duck session, he says.
“If the Democrats lose bigger than they’re expecting to, we will see some desperations – some Hail Marys,” he says. “If Republicans do get the majority they are looking for, they will apply breaks because they won’t want to do much of anything before they have control and can run those processes the way they want to, so that’s going to manifest most specifically in things such as appropriations.”
The next fiscal deadline to fund the government is Dec. 16, notes Lane.
“This could either be a continuing resolution again into next spring, or it could be a full omnibus package funding the government through next September,” he says. “How this election plays out will be a big factor in what the package looks like.”
Lane says Republicans will not want a full omnibus package through September if they’re going to have control in a few weeks.
“What happens within the next few weeks has major consequences for what the lame-duck session looks like,” he says. “Anything is possible in a lame-duck session, and our team is going to have to be on their A game looking out for any of these things popping out last minute which we will need to engage on to make sure it doesn’t get across the finish line.”
Lane says anti-ag activists play a larger role in this election than would normally be expected.
“Animal rights activists are interesting because they have no problem pushing their agenda to nontraditional allies,” he says. “They are looking for allies in the Republican party.”
Anti-ag activists spent a “tremendous amount” of political dollars this cycle on Republicans, says Lane.
“A lot of those members didn’t really understand who they were taking money from in these big events we go to in Washington, D.C.,” he says. “People show up and hand a check, whether it is a group like Animal Wellness Action, the Humane Society Legislative Action Fund or individual donors.”
This is an issue NCBA has been strongly engaged with, says Lane, and NCBA will continue to educate on the topic. Many sportsmen communities, firearm communities, extractive use communities and other groups share NCBA’s concern with anti-ag activists and their intentions.
“They tell these members it’s about puppies and kittens, but it’s not, it’s about shutting down ag, hunting and all of our ways of life in rural communities across the country,” he says. “We need to make sure our members across the country understand this is not about warm and fuzzy puppies and kittens. These are bad people with a bad agenda.”
NCBA’s policy priorities
Lane says the election will impact NCBA’s policy priorities, especially going into a farm bill year.
“I was here in 2010 when the Tea Party wave came in, and that was marked by a high degree of fiscal conservatism,” he says. “I think we will see very similar dynamics coming into this next Congress.”
He notes the U.S. has seen additional government spending beyond normal budgeting since the beginning of COVID-19.
“The federal deficit reflects this,” he says. “A lot of incoming members of Congress are really keying in on this and really focusing on where money is going out the door – where we are spending too much and where we can tighten the belt.”
The farm bill will be about a $1 trillion package, and it will receive scrutiny, says Lane.
“I think it is really important we understand just what a big sales job a full farm bill will be with this new Congress,” he says. “We have heard from a lot of incoming freshmen member Republicans saying, I have no interest in voting for a big package like this, even if they are from farm states, so this paints the picture of what we have ahead of us.”
Lane recognizes everything in the farm bill costs more now than it did the last time the farm bill was passed.
“Inflation is front and center right now,” he says. “This goes for food prices, conservation program costs and disastrous assistance program costs – across the board everything costs more.”
Thompson hopes to have a farm bill to vote on by September of 2023, says Lane.
“We will do everything we can to help him with this, but I think it is an extremely remote possibility we are voting on a farm bill in a successful way by next September,” he says.
Educating new members
As new members make their way into Congress, NCBA is expected to bring them up to speed on issues facing the cattle industry, says Lane.
“NCBA has a lot of different points to get on these new members’ radars, and NCBA wants to make sure we are educating their staff and make sure they understand just what a resource we can be at NCBA with the team we have here for them as they move through the year,” he says.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.