Senate Ag Committee Holds Livestock & Poultry Hearing

Jamie Johansen

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 2.25.46 PMU.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, held a hearing on the U.S. livestock and poultry sectors, titled “A Review of the U.S. Livestock and Poultry Sectors: Marketplace‎ Opportunities and Challenges.” It has been five years since a hearing like this has taken place. Farmers and ranchers across the country took part in the event.

Witnesses included: Mr. Tracy Brunner, President, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) & Cow Camp Feedyard, Inc., Ramona , KS; Mr. Ronald Truex, Chairman, United Egg Producers & Creighton Brothers, LLC, Atwood, IN; Dr. Howard Hill, Past President, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), Breeze Hill Farms, and H&K Enterprises, Cambridge, Iowa; Mr. Joe Goggins, Producer, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, Vermillion Ranch Co., Public Auction Yards, and Northern Livestock Video Auction, Billings, MT; Mr. John Zimmerman, Producer, National Turkey Federation/Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, and P&J Products, Northfield , MN.

Senator Roberts said, “Today’s livestock and poultry producers are operating in a highly cyclical marketplace. One year they may receive record prices for their animals, and then the next see a dramatic drop in value, like we have seen recently in the beef sector.”

National Farmers Union (NFU) submitted an independent statement to the hearing record, defending much-needed market relief efforts given the low prices and consolidated livestock market facing family farmers and ranchers.

“There are many challenges facing agriculture today. The livestock sector, like much of agriculture, is under economic stress with no near end in sight,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “I applaud the committee for exploring these challenges at today’s hearing, and I urge the members of this panel to take a comprehensive look at the livestock industry as they move forward with considerations of the farm economy.”

NCBA’s Brunner stated, “We see many more opportunities in the cattle industry than challenges. The challenges we do face are the result of regulation, specifically rampant over-regulation from this administration. We need the Senate to focus on defunding the EPA’s ‘waters of the United States’ final rule and pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership which would give us the best access ever negotiated into the Japanese market. Japan is already our largest export market for U.S. beef, but as the International Trade Commission report confirmed, TPP would add nearly $1 billion in beef exports. What we do not need is the USDA dictating how we market cattle or manage risk in the cattle industry. The industry has developed tools and alternative marketing arrangements that benefit cattle producers and consumers. We’re not asking the Senate to intervene in our contracts; we’re asking the Senate to play their role in expanding market access and ensuring we are not regulated out of business.”

NPPC sees significant benefits for the U.S. pork industry from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and believes they would be wiped out if the Obama administration implements pending rules related to the buying and selling of livestock. Dr. Hill said, “Pork producers are very concerned about the so-called GIPSA Rule. The livestock industry will be fundamentally and negatively changed, and the increased exports and jobs created from TPP will be negated” if the rule is implemented.

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