Cattlemen Outline Farm Bill Priorities for House Ag Committee
WASHINGTON - The 2007 Farm Bill must include policies that promote a competitive and free market system, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Mike John, Missouri cattle producer and NCBA president, testified today before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee at a hearing on future agriculture policy and the 2007 Farm Bill.
“It is not in the nation’s farmers’ or ranchers’ best interest for the government to implement policy that sets prices, underwrites inefficient production, or manipulates domestic supply, demand, cost, or price,” said John.
A producer-driven organization, NCBA relies on the directives of its membership of over 25,000 cattle producers and 64 affiliate organizations to establish how to proceed in setting Farm Bill policy. NCBA members have identified “guiding principles” for the 2007 Farm Bill. Under these principles, NCBA’s priorities are to:
- Support a reduction of the federal deficit while assuring funding for Farm Bill priorities, without agriculture bearing a disproportionate share of the reductions,
- Minimize direct federal involvement in agricultural production methods,
- Preserve the individual’s right to manage land, water, and other resources,
- Provide an opportunity to compete in foreign markets, and
- Support equitable farm policy.
Areas where government and industry can work together to achieve mutual goals include conservation and environmental stewardship. “Programs such as EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) are extremely popular with cattlemen, and we hope to see this type of cost share program expand to include more producers,” said John. “Cost share and working land programs serve to protect both the environment and the taxpayers’ money.”
John also thanked the committee for its support on many recent and current trade issues. “To grow our business, we have to look outside of the U.S. borders to find 96 percent of the world’s consumers. We encourage the Committee’s continued strong and vigilant oversight of the enforcement of any trade pact to which American agriculture is a party.” Furthermore, John said, cattlemen strongly support the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program, which help expand opportunities for U.S. beef.
As Congress looks at reauthorizing the Farm Bill, many programs important to cattlemen – such as those in the areas of conservation, trade, marketing, research, energy production, property rights, tax policy and animal identification - are all being evaluated.
“America’s cattlemen are proud and independent, and we just want the opportunity to run our ranches the best we can to provide a high quality product to the American consumer,” said John. “Even more importantly, we want to provide for our families and preserve our way of life.”