Nearly 500 people with a stake in Kansas agriculture attended last week’s U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill field hearing in Wichita, Kan. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the ranking member on the committee, welcomed Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to Kansas, where 15 individuals representing all aspects of agriculture presented testimony. Kansas Livestock Association President Ken Grecian, a cow-calf producer from Palco, Kan., represented the livestock industry at the hearing on Aug. 25, 2011. Grecian said cattlemen continue to fight issues defeated during debate on the 2008 Farm Bill but resurrected in the form of a proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) that would greatly expand the role of government in marketing livestock and eliminate marketing arrangements that add value to cattle.
"The proposed regulations ultimately may remove from the marketplace products consumers prefer. Producers have responded to consumer demand by finding innovative ways to develop and market premium quality and branded products. Programs like Certified Angus Beef, U.S. Premium Beef, "naturally raised" and others would be jeopardized," said Grecian, who also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). "These alternative marketing arrangements have allowed producers to get paid for the value they add. These arrangements ensure a consistent supply of livestock that meet the requirements of such programs. Without these arrangements, neither these programs, nor the producer alliances that support them could be sustained.
Grecian stated that NCBA and KLA members believe the proposed rule would set the beef industry back to a time when all cattle received the same average price and beef demand was in a downward spiral. He strongly urged the committee to take action to prevent the implementation of the GIPSA rule.
Grecian also suggested there is no need for a livestock title in the 2012 Farm Bill. He said a livestock title "only provides a home for misguided initiatives" like the GIPSA rule and mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL).
"The livestock title reminds me too much of the old saying that we’re from the government and we’re here to help," said Grecian. "We believe markets free from government interference best serve the beef industry. A livestock title only provides a home for misguided initiatives like the GIPSA rule and COOL. We prefer a farm bill that does not restrict our marketing options or distort market signals."
Sen. Roberts said GIPSA clearly acted outside the intent of Congress when it proposed the rule. He recently sent President Barack Obama a list of regulations proposed by the current administration, including the GIPSA rule, which should be reconsidered. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall said Sen. Roberts has been one of the strongest supporters of cattlemen and women.
"Sen. Roberts has remained strong in his efforts to support farmers and ranchers as they work to make a living off the land and provide safe and healthy food for U.S. consumers and abroad. He has the commonsense we need more of inside the Beltway. He understands the importance of U.S. agriculture," said Woodall. "We encourage Sen. Roberts to continue his work to stop big government intervention into the private marketplace."