Woodall Predicts Farm Bill Signed, Sealed and Delivered by ChristmasThu, 14 Nov 2013 11:59:15 CST
At the National Association of Farm Broadcasters annual meeting this week in Kansas City, Colin Woodall of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said he is very optimistic that the 2013 farm bill is well on its way to final passage.
“I think, finally, we are just about to wrap this thing up. I anticipate us having this bill done, signed and delivered by Christmas, the way things are looking. We had the face-to-face meeting of the conference committee. The four principle members of both the Senate and the House ag committees have been meeting almost daily. Their staffs are meeting daily. So, we’re making a lot of good progress here. I think we’re finally, after three years, going to get this bill done.”
Woodall said the major sticking point, in his estimation, has been the nutrition title and what level of compromise in cuts will be necessary to draw sufficient Democrats into voting for the bill to compensate for Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers who will walk away.
“We have heard that $10 billion dollars kind of being that magic number. I just don’t know right now. That is the conversation that is being had by Chairwoman Stabenow and Chairman Lucas.”
Woodall said that he thinks Lucas will be successful in maintaining most of what the House has wanted in the commodity title and truly make it a bill that will work for all commodities in all regions of the country. He was also optimistic that the disaster relief portions of the bill would survive and would be made retroactive.
Country of Origin Labeling is an issue that was tossed into the bill relatively late. It is an issue of such importance to many producers that Woodall thinks it, too, will survive and make it into the conference committee’s report.
“I think there will be some sort of fix in this final product because these members of the conference committee understand that the looming retaliation from Canada and Mexico which will probably take place late next summer or early next fall will be devastating to us. Canada and Mexico, historically, have been two of the top five export markets for U.S. beef. In 2012 both of them were worth about a billion dollars apiece. For 2013 it looks like Canada is going to far exceed that billion-dollar mark and Mexico is going to be very close. They are hugely important to the bottom line of this industry and if we lose access, it’s going to be a killer to us.”
Another issue that Woodall addressed is the EPA’s rumored lowering of the amount of ethanol it will require be blended in gasoline. Since the release of that rumor, the EPA has backed off and may no longer lower the RFS requirement. Even though corn is now down near $4 per bushel instead of $7, Woodall said livestock producers believe a free market solution is the best method to determine how much ethanol is produced and consumed rather than an arbitrary government mandate.
Woodall said that even though immigration reform appears to be off the table this year, the NCBA is still pushing for a reform so that producers in border states might be better protected from illegal activities spilling over from Mexico and have access to the laborers they need.
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