Butts doesn't expect a farm bill vote until 2013
ALTOONA, Iowa - From the farm bill to dust regulations, child labor prohibitions and ethanol policy, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is watching out for the interests of its members, said Kristina Butts, NCBA executive director of...
ALTOONA, Iowa - From the farm bill to dust regulations, child labor prohibitions and ethanol policy, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is watching out for the interests of its members, said Kristina Butts, NCBA executive director of legislative affairs. She spoke at the recent Iowa Cattlemen's Association Convention in Altoona.
Butts predicts a farm bill will be crafted this spring but a final vote isn't likely until early 2013.
The farm bill process started last year with Senate Agriculture Committee hearings. In the House, where a third of the members of the ag committee were freshmen, chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma spent much of his time educating new members on farm policy.
"All of a sudden we had this Super Committee, which we've never had before," Butts said.
NCBA was ready because it had started a year out establishing priorities with a farm bill task force.
"We needed to be ready to give deliverables when the committees called and asked our priorities," Butts said. "We worked together for a year and put together our wish list for the farm bill."
NCBA's first priority was to remove the livestock title from the bill.
"The livestock title was new in the 2008 farm bill, and it gave us things like mandatory animal ID, the proposed GIPSA rule and country of origin labeling, three things we're not very fond of," Butts said. "But the other challenge is that it creates an opportunity for other groups like HSUS and PETA to engage in farm policy. We know we'll have some challenges with marketing and animal ID, but we can deal with those in a miscellaneous title."
Conservation was another hot topic because the conservation program has hard dollars attached to it.
"When Congress is looking at ways to pay for programs and save money, programs with money allocated become the first target," Butts said.
NCBA's farm bill task force formed a smaller group to look at conservation issues. The main focus was ways to streamline and make conservation programs more efficient and usable.
The third priority was research on animal health issues.
"We think this is a wise use of tax dollars so that if there is an animal disease outbreak, the government has the latest research data we need as an industry to address those concerns," Butts said.
Most of NCBA's priorities were included in the farm bill compromise that was to go to the Super Committee, Butts said. Unfortunately, the Super Committee imploded, and the process is back to square one.
"We do have our priorities and we're in a pretty good position to move forward, but it's a matter of timing," Butts said. "I'm a little bit nervous about the farm bill going before the House and Senate during an election year. There's always a little bit of funny business that goes on. I think we may have another version of the farm bill sometime in the spring that might not be voted on until 2013."