National Cattlemen’s Policy Chair Gene Copenhaver met with House Speaker Mike Johnson on the farm bill and other issues recently. Copenhaver says Johnson was encouraging on prospects for a new farm bill after the old one expired last September and was extended one year.
Copenhaver says, “He told us some things that enlightened us on the farm bill, too. It might be sooner than later, than what we thought before.”
House Ag Chair GT Thompson said earlier that he may try to start committee farm bill action in March, though lawmakers may still be hashing out spending bills then under a proposed new timeline. Copenhaver told NCBA’s Beltway Beef podcast he also had some farm bill messages for the Speaker. He said, “Keep animal rights groups out of the farm bill. Be very cautious about that, and make sure to keep Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack honest about what he’s doing, and not be on an agenda that wouldn’t be good for agriculture, wouldn’t be good for any type of commodity.”
NCBA and other farm groups have had several disagreements with Vilsack on market regulatory, biofuel, and SNAP issues, while other farm bill asks could see more agreement.
Copenhaver says, “Number one, conservation. We want to continue to see these conservation programs. Farmers are the original conservationists, and we need to remember that. Risk management, you know how popular the LRP program has become and how valuable an asset it is for our producers. And the third thing is, in the 2018 farm bill, we set up the vaccine bank, and we need to get continued funding for that, for disease preparedness for the future.”
But funding remains the key dispute as farm and feeding interests fight over how to divide up a fixed farm bill budget, short of new funding sources.