This week has had some positive activity in Washington DC.
The Senate marked up the Farm Bill. From a livestock perspective, the bill has most of what the cattle industry wanted but it is still a long way to a final bill from both house and senate plus a presidential signature. The timeline must be September 30 to keep the current legislation from expiring.
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The US Senate’s version of a 2018 Farm Bill was deliberately crafted to be a bipartisan bill. Allison Rivera of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s DC office says, though, there are some things in that measure, passed out of committee Wednesday, that are very positive for the cattle industry. She talked to Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays about those provisions in the bill and the path forward to getting the bill approved by Congress before September 30th when the current Farm Bill expires.
One of the main things in the bill that Rivera says she and the NCBA were pleased to see included was permanent authorization of a Foot & Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank.
“We were a little disappointed not to see any funding attached to it but happy to see permanent authorization. That shows support for the bank,” she said. “As well as a little bit of an increase in funding for EQIP and some flexibility on haying and grazing on CRP lands during times of emergencies like we’re seeing with the wildfires and the drought across the country.”
In less than three hours, the Senate’s markup meeting of the bill on Wednesday concluded its business, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell present who assured the bill would be made a priority and considered by the full Senate before the July Fourth recess. In the meantime, Rivera encourages cattle producers and NCBA members to stay in contact with their Congressmen and continue pushing for speedy ratification process.
“The hope is that the House will bring up the bill again next week,” she said. “At the end of the day, the Senate is moving. We want to see that momentum continue and get to conference committee to work out some of those kinks. Obviously, there’s a lot of differences between the two bills – one being bipartisan, the other not as much. So, there’s still some work to do.”