(NAFB)--Speaking at the Illinois Beef Association’s Summer Conference - National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall outlined three ways forward for the farm bill. The first option - while not impossible - would be quite difficult. It’s just that - in the history of Congress - Woodall says we haven’t seen a major piece of legislation fail, get dusted off and considered again within two months of time. The second option - according to Woodall - is a six month extension of the 2008 Farm Bill - which would take it to February of 2014. But that timeframe is critical - he says - because by the end of February - the focus in Washington shifts toward the November midterm elections. Woodall says the final option - allowing everything to expire and going back to the Permanent Law of 1949 - would completely upset ag policy in the U.S. All the uncertainty we currently have - he says - would be doubled and tripled if that were to happen. Woodall expects an extension. He says that’s the easy one - as most people under the 2008 programs - except dairy producers - are okay with that.
There are two issues NCBA was hoping to fix with the new farm bill - including the country-of-origin labeling law. While the proponents of COOL say consumers will want to pay a premium for a product of the U.S. - Woodall says the reality has been consumers care about price. COOL has also impacted U.S. beef trade with Canada and Mexico. He says we sent almost two-billion dollars worth of U.S. beef into those countries in 2012. When COOL was implemented - the two countries filed a Worth Trade Organization case against the U.S. saying the program violated trade agreements. NCBA doesn’t believe attempts to fix the law were successful - and Woodall expects Canada and Mexico will retaliate by the end of the year. He says they can put 100-percent surtax on all exports of U.S. beef to those countries and other products.
NCBA was also targeting the Grain, Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration rule in the new farm bill.