As the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee continues working on its appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015, the National Farmers Union submitted their funding priorities to the subcommittee for consideration. Of the five priorities highlighted, two will have a specific impact on the U.S. cattle industry.
The Subcommittee will review the proposed budgets for agencies within USDA, the Farm Credit Administration, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Food and Drug Administration before drafting and considering its own appropriations bill. While appropriations bills primarily are the vehicles to fund programs previously authorized in specific pieces of legislation, they are sometimes used to achieve other policy goals. Members of Congress can include “policy riders” to appropriations bills to achieve other legislation priorities and can also include language to defund to prohibit funding for certain government programs.
Along those lines, NFU’s top priority is that the Subcommittee not allow legislative riders or targeted funding reductions to limit or restrict the enforcement, legal defense or study of mandatory Country-of-Origin-Labeling (MCOOL). With labeling requirements already in place, an ongoing review of the law by the World Trade Organization, a pending lawsuit regarding implementation of new labeling rules and an economic analysis called for in the 2014 Farm Bill, NFU is encouraging Congress to fund the law.
NFU’s second priority is for the Subcommittee to not allow any policy riders or funding restrictions to USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s rulemaking and enforcement authority under the Packers and Stockyards Act. R-CALF also submitted written testimony to the Subcommittee urging Congress not to allow policy riders of funding restrictions related to this issue.
“Because of appropriations riders in the last three years, the USDA has not been allowed to write rules that would provide greater fairness for livestock sellers and poultry growers in the agriculture marketplace, as directed by the 2008 Farm Bill,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “I strongly urge the subcommittee to reject any legislative riders that would undermine the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s authority and ignore congressional intent.”
Beyond that, NFU urged the Subcommittee to fully fund all programs that were granted discretionary funding in the recently passed farm bill, identified two research related priorities, and urged fully funding the energy title of the farm bill and allow the 2014 Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) funds to carry over into 2014 if they are not expended this year.
Read more about NFU’s funding priorities.