The winding days of Congress’s pre-election session was fruitful for cattlemen as many long-supported provisions saw passage and are on their way to becoming law.

“Cattle producers are grateful to their friends in Washington for helping to steer some of these key provisions through the legislative process,” says National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President and Kansas cattle producer Jan Lyons. “The successes we saw this week will help cattlemen better run their businesses and operations for years to come.”

Some of the key bills passed include:

  • Disaster Relief:  Hurricane and drought reliefmeasures were attached to the Military Construction Appropriations Bill, which passed the House on Saturday and the Senate on Monday. The $11.6 billion in emergency supplemental aid will provide funding for states hit by Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, and by Tropical Storm Bonnie. Of that, approximately $230 million will be for the Emergency Watershed Protection program and the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). The ECP is the program that will help cattle producers most. The bill also contains $2.9 billion in funding for ranchers whose operations were hurt by drought.
  • American Jobs Creation Act:  This bill, passed late last week, contains a number of provisions important for cattlemen:
    The Rancher Help Act extends from two years to four years the amount of time cattle producers have to reinvest in livestock without paying capital gains taxes on cattle sold due to drought or another natural disaster.
    The Extension of Section 179 Expensing allows cattle producers to write off equipment purchases in the year of purchase without having to depreciate the expense over time.
    The FSC/ETI measure corrects portions of the U.S. tax code that led the European Union to place high and ever increasing tariffs on U.S. exports due the U.S.’s current treatment of Foreign Sales Corporation (FSC) and Extra-Territorial Income (ETI). This bill should resolve this outstanding World Trade Organization dispute and remove tariffs from many U.S exports. 
  • Weeds Bill:  The long-supported Noxious Weed Control Act passed out of Congress late Sunday night. The measure has been championed by Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and supported by cattlemen for nearly five years. The bill requires the Secretary of the Interior to establish a program to provide assistance through states to eligible weed management entities to control or eradicate harmful, nonnative weeds on public and private land.

“NCBA has been working for years with our friends in Congress on these common-sense measures which will help producers better operate their businesses and better compete in the marketplace,” says Lyons. “Cattlemen can feel confident that they are well represented in Washington and that their voices are being heard.”

Despite these wins, there remains some unfinished business that cattlemen will have their eyes on when Congress returns to Washington Nov. 16. After working with key committees toward reauthorization of Mandatory Price Reporting during the past year, the measure was delayed in the Senate, and although it eventually passed the Senate, it was too late to see action in the House before adjournment.

“We’re very disappointed that Mandatory Price Reporting was not reauthorized before its sunset date of Oct. 22,” says NCBA’s Director of Legislative Affairs Bryan Dierlam. “But there is little opposition to reauthorization, and we’re confident it will pass when the House reconvenes in November.” USDA has said it will continue to collect information and implement Mandatory Price Reporting despite the sunset.

Also on the Congressional agenda for November is debate on an omnibus appropriations bill. “This is when we will urge passage of many of our agriculture appropriations provisions, such as funding for our animal health infrastructure, nutrition and conservation programs,” says Dierlam.