Congressmen Adrian Smith of Nebraska and Joe Courtney of Connecticut joined forces to host a briefing where congressional staff learned about multiple voluntary, producer-led animal care programs and about the concerns farmers and ranchers have with legislation introduced in the House that would mandate strict on-farm production practices.
Congressman Smith said science must be the driving force behind public policy decisions. He said farmers and ranchers are dedicated to caring for the health and well-being of their animals.
“Ensuring public policy is driven by sound science is critical to the continued success of agriculture, and in turn, the long term safety and security of our nation’s food supply. The landscape of American agriculture continues to evolve, but the concern and care farmers and ranchers show their livestock remains unchanged,” Rep. Smith said. “Improved housing, updated handling practices and modernized health and nutrition products are the result of generations of investment and research into raising high quality animals. Every day, our producers demonstrate their dedication to providing the highest quality, safest and most affordable products in the world.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President J.D. Alexander joined Amon Baer, an egg farmer from Minnesota; Betsy Flores, director of regulatory affairs for the National Milk Producers Federation; and Bill Luckey, a hog producer from Nebraska on a panel to explain how they care for their livestock and poultry. Each speaker raised serious concern with H.R. 3798, legislation that would codify an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP) to seek federally mandated production practices for the egg industry. Alexander, who is a Nebraska beef producer, said a one-size-fits all approach to animal agriculture won’t work.
“No two farms or ranches are the same. What works for my neighbor may not work for me because all farmers and ranchers have to adapt to meet the needs of their animals, to comply with regulations and, ultimately, to satisfy consumer demand,” Alexander said. “My biggest concern with H.R. 3798 is that outside groups with no knowledge of the industry will be dictating my livelihood and potentially compromising the welfare of my livestock. This legislation creates a slippery slope. Today, it’s egg farmers but tomorrow it could be any other segment of animal agriculture and we’re not going to let that happen.”
Alexander said the groups are not alone in their opposition to mandated, prescriptive production practices. He said the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) has acknowledged mandated animal production practices, such as those proposed H.R. 3798, are not in the best interest of promoting true animal welfare because they cannot easily be adapted or updated for different farming models. A far better approach, according to Alexander, is voluntary, producer-led programs like the beef industry’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program.
Source: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association