Cattlemen Provide Farm Bill Testimony
WASHINGTON - Cattle producer-members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) are looking ahead to development of the 2007 Farm Bill, and identifying priorities as Congress begins its deliberations.
Programs important to cattlemen - in the areas of conservation, trade, marketing, research, energy production, property rights, tax policy and animal identification - are all being evaluated.
John Queen, North Carolina cattle producer and NCBA president-elect, testified yesterday before 16 members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee at a field hearing in Fayetteville, N.C. A second field hearing will take place in Auburn, Ala., today.
While members and state affiliates are still building NCBA’s specific priorities, Queen emphasized the need to follow these key philosophies as guiding principles in the formation of the next Farm Bill: limited government involvement, individual choice in the management of resources, open and fair access to foreign markets, and policies which don’t favor one producer or commodity over another. He also emphasized the need for sensible and workable environmental regulations.
“Some of the cattle industry’s biggest challenges and threats come from the loss of natural resources and burdensome environmental regulations.” Queen said. “Our industry is threatened every day by urban encroachment, natural disasters, and misinterpretation and misapplication of environmental laws.”
Queen also thanked the Agriculture Committee for its role in protecting property rights, noting that cattlemen are very concerned with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the use of eminent domain to acquire property.
“The thought that our ranches could be taken by municipal governments and turned over to private developers in the name of economic development is disturbing,” Queen said. “Our country is great for many reasons, but one of them is the ability to own property, use it how you see fit, and not worry about it being taken from you on someone else’s terms.”
Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) says the field hearings are part of a series the committee will convene this year. “The feedback we receive from our producers will give us a good sense of how our farm policies work in practice and what improvements can be made,” says Goodlatte.
As a member-driven organization, NCBA relies on the directives of its membership of over 25,000 producer-members and 64 affiliate organizations to establish how to proceed in setting Farm Bill policy. NCBA members discussed Farm Bill issues at last week’s Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Denver. NCBA has also convened affiliate summits to discuss Farm Bill program areas in detail, with a second summit planned later this month.
“The Farm Bill is a huge undertaking and one we want to make sure we’re prepared for,” says Jay Truitt, NCBA’s vice president of government affairs. “We want input from producers across the country about which programs work and what needs to be changed, so that when we meet with policymakers, we can build and improve the business climate for cattlemen.”