In testimony before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, Craig Uden, a fourth-generation cattle producer from Nebraska and the president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), called on Congress to authorize $150 million a year over five years for a “stronger and more adequate foot-and-mouth disease (FMB) vaccine bank” as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.
“Foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious and has the potential to spread widely and rapidly, debilitating our herds,” Uden warned subcommittee members in his oral testimony. “Analysts estimate that an FMD outbreak in the United States could potentially cost our nation’s livestock producers billions of dollars in the first 12 months alone. An FMD outbreak has the potential to cause enormous economic losses to not only livestock producers, but also to auction markets, slaughterhouses, food processors and related industries.”
Uden also testified that the vast majority of cattlemen oppose the federal government’s involvement in determining how their cattle are marketed – whether through vehicles like Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA’s) interim final rule on competitive injury or through mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (mCOOL.)
“Our analysis of the (GIPSA) rule leads us to believe that if this rule is implemented, the packers will offer one price for all cattle, regardless of quality,” Uden testified. “We believe this rule would eliminate value-based marketing programs and negatively impact producers, making it more difficult to provide the types of beef products that consumers are clamoring for.”
Uden continued on the issue of mandatory, government-dictated, country-of-origin labeling: “Repeal of the previous mandatory program was necessary since, after six and a half years of implementation, it provided no market benefit to beef producers or consumers. On top of that, it also violated trade agreements with two of our largest and vital trading partners.”
“Trade is vital to the beef industry, and protecting trade promotion programs such as the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Programs within the 2018 Farm Bill are important,” Uden said. “Ninety-six percent of the world’s consumers reside outside U.S. borders. We recognize that the growth and profitability of the U.S. cattle and beef industry is closely tied to our ability to market our products to those consumers.”