Resolution process leaves Farm Bureau in limbo over livestock markets legislation

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The American Farm Bureau Federation may have to backtrack on its support for a livestock market reform bill after two delegate votes at its annual meeting on Tuesday.

On the geographically divided issue, the organization’s voting delegates decided on Tuesday to uphold AFBF policy supporting a regional approach to resolving concerns about brokered sales in the livestock sector.

However, they also voted to oppose government mandates “which compel any abattoir to purchase a set percentage of their live animal supply via cash tenders”.

The two ideas are key elements of a bill championed by two Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee that seeks to create a system of regionalized requirements for cash trading in the beef cattle industry in the aim of improving price transparency in the sector.

Farm Bureau previously approved the bill in accordance with the organization’s policies. Now AFBF chairman Zippy Duvall has said the group’s management will have to look into the matter.

“We will assess the bill itself and we will compare it to the policy, and we will tell the council which parts of the bill agree with our policy, which part does not agree with our policy, then we will allow them to make a decision,” Duvall told reporters after the delegates session.

The Farm Bureau’s board of directors is scheduled to meet in Atlanta on Wednesday, but Duvall said the group’s review would take longer.

The council’s decision could put Farm Bureau in the awkward position of changing its stance on a measure it once publicly supported. The organization has a policy supporting some of the other provisions of the bill – a contract library for the beef industry, for example – and could decide that it still supports the majority of the legislation even given its opposition to one provision. specific to it.

Zippy Duvall, President of the Agricultural Bureau“If we change now … we’re not just lending our support, we’re looking to join the other team,” Michael Johnson, a delegate from the Iowa Farm Bureau, said during an indoor debate. “We would lose the trust of senators when an issue we have our backs on suddenly turns around.”

Duvall said he discussed the possibility with Sen. Deb Fischer, the Nebraska Republican who introduced the bill with Sen. Chuck Grassley and a bipartisan contingent of other senators, and said the two senior members were briefed. of the impending discussion.

“I think they both know that our politics come from our base,” Duvall said.

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Discussion of the group’s farm bill was relatively limited, which Duvall attributed to delegates’ confidence in the AFBF’s internal review process. A national study committee should detail its findings to the AFBF board “before making public what we think should be changed or supported in a new bill,” he said.

Delegates made some policy changes, however, including a call for higher reference prices “for all Title I products”, improvements to dairy margin coverage in the upcoming Farm Bill, and the implementation of introduction of a permanent per acre discount on crop insurance premiums.

Among many other changes, delegates voted for:

  • Support the repeal of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which the group says “removes all dairy except fat-free and low-fat products from schools” while adopting language to support inclusion of whole milk in food and nutrition programs;
  • Changing the title of the group’s Farm Labor section to Farm Labor and called for immigration law reform “that grants legal status to previously employed undocumented farm workers.”
  • Add a section on urban agriculture — “a growing segment of our industry” — to its definition of agriculture and support the “continuation or initiation” of urban agriculture.
  • Add several policy provisions to AFBF health insurance language regarding COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccination, delegates voted, should be a personal choice that does not preclude a person from serving on a government committee. The objection was also added to “all federal vaccination passports” and said her vaccination status “should not be used as a criterion for medical insurance coverage related to COVID-19.” State affiliates of the AFBF are leading insurers in many parts of the country.
  • Strike wording stating that countervailing duties “should be imposed on imports that are subsidized by trade-distorting subsidies.”
  • Add a policy that allows growers to “end the growing season under the same regulatory conditions under which they made their planting decisions.”
  • Support the creation of a federal program “to encourage the installation of solar panels on farm buildings” and refine policy to support the classification of base acres used in renewable energy projects as conservation acres in the goal of reactivating agricultural program support for those acres “when the renewable energy project is decommissioned.”
  • Call for new USDA reports on the dairy industry and adoption of a resolution requesting that USDA reports be released outside of market trading hours.
  • Oppose the implementation of the Biden administration’s “America the Beautiful” 30×30 plan “in any way inconsistent with our policies.” The plan calls for conserving 30% of US land by 2030.
  • Support the federal government’s action to investigate “all agricultural monopolies”.

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