WASHINGTON — Language that would have mandated how livestock
farmers, specifically those in the poultry industry, care and house their
livestock has been removed from the Senate mark of the 2013 farm bill.
“What we understand right now is the language is not
included — they took it out,” said Colin Woodall, vice president of government
affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
The NCBA was one of several national agriculture and farm
organizations that voiced strong opposition to the inclusion of language from an
agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United
States in the farm bill.
“We learned that the Egg Products Inspection Act amendments
of 2013, Senate Bill 820, had been attached to the 2013 farm bill,” said Chase
Adams, director of communications for NCBA. “We are adamantly opposed to
anything that is a production mandate. We are opposed to Congress, in any way,
mandating the way that animals are raised.”
Woodall said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie
Stabenow, D-Mich., likely would follow the same course as she and the committee
did for the Senate mark of the 2012 farm bill.
“The Senate will move forward with their mark of the farm
bill on May 9. If Senator Stabenow runs it like she did last year, they will
finish it that day,” he said. “She has indicated her intention is to get it done
in one day. That means it will be ready to go to the floor anytime between the
end of this week and when they break for Memorial Day on May 24.”
Woodall cautioned that the issue isn’t dead and likely will
come up again in relation to this farm bill.
“We don’t know for sure whether or not it will be an
amendment or if it will come up on the floor. We do expect it to still come up.
This is not the end of it,” he said.
Last year, Stabenow and the Senate Agriculture Committee
moved the Senate version of the 2012 farm bill onto the Senate floor, where it
passed on June 21 on a 64-35 vote. The Senate version of the 2012 farm bill
would have saved $23.6 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional
The House Agriculture Committee passed its version, HR 6083,
the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, out of committee on July
12 on a 35-11 vote. That bill would have achieved $35.1 billion in direct
spending cuts over 10 years, according to the CBO.
However, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, refused to
bring the House version to the floor for a vote before he adjourned the House
members to return to their districts prior to the November 2012 elections. That
action moved the farm bill to the 113th Congress for action.
Prior to the news of the language not being included in the
farm bill mark itself, Adams said that the NCBA would oppose any farm bill that
included the language. The NCBA was joined in its opposition by major players in
U.S. agriculture, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National
Pork Producers Council.
In addition, at least one senator voiced his objections to
the inclusion of livestock production mandates in the farm bill.
“Senator Johanns has said he is opposed to that language. He
feels that it’s a power grab to take something that is traditionally regulated
at the state level and move it to the federal level. Once a regulation gets
moved to the federal level, rather than those regulations having flexibility and
be able to be adapted, they end up getting broader and broader and becoming a
one-size-fits-all regulation. He would oppose the language based on the
regulatory issues,” said Nick Simpson, spokesman for Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.,
and former U.S. secretary of agriculture under former President George W. Bush.