- White House release text of Build Back Better Act
The US Cattlemen Association reported that the White House and Congressional negotiators released the long-awaited Build Back Better Act last week, after the cost of the package had been whittled down from its original $3.5 trillion price tag to $1.75 trillion over a decade.
What’s in it for U.S. cattle producers you ask? The bill allocates $900 million to the Department of Justice Antitrust Division for carrying out work related to competition or enforcement of the antitrust laws and $100 million to the Federal Trade Commission for work related to unfair methods of competition or enforcement of the antitrust laws.
The bill also provides assistance for outstanding indebtedness on direct farm loans to economically distressed direct farm loan borrowers, and outstanding indebtedness up to $150,000 for other direct farm loan borrowers who did not receive significant amounts of payments under the Market Facilitation Program in 2018 and 2019 or the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program in 2020.
There is also an incredible amount of funding entirely dedicated to preventing and fighting wildfire, and the promotion of fuels reductions projects.
According to The Hagstom Report, President Biden said at a news conference in Italy on Sunday that he hopes Congress will pass the Build Back Better Act (BBB) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, known as the bipartisan infrastructure framework or BIF this week.
- U.S. sees spike in contaminated Australian meat shipments
According to Reuters, U.S. food safety officials have blocked a rising number of meat shipments from Australia due to fecal contamination, straining trade relations between the two countries.
Labor and food safety groups attribute the problem to an Australian system that increasingly allows companies to inspect their own meat, replacing government inspectors.
Because U.S. food safety inspectors only physically examine or test a subset of imported meat, according to food industry experts, the rejections suggest that other contaminated shipments may have made it through the United States border.
The US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) downplayed the rejections data in a statement to Reuters, saying its import inspection process “provides confidence in the safety of product from Australia that enters into U.S. commerce,” while Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment (DAWE) emphasized that “Australian non-compliances remain very low – both relative to Australia’s total volume of meat and meat products exported, and when compared to competitor trading partners.”
While Australian imports accounted for 18% of the U.S.’s total meat imports in 2019, Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment (DAWE) is concerned that a continued trend of rejections “could result in the US imposing sanctions, losses in confidence in Australia’s export system, and/or potential losses in market access for the US.”
The uptick in rejected meat shipments highlights potential problems in Australia’s domestic inspection regime, which has been transitioning from a government-run to a company-run system where regulators allow meat companies to substitute their own workers for government employees to inspect carcasses as they moved down the processing line. The change intends to speed up operations and save companies and the government money without undermining quality.
Zach Corrigan, an attorney at Food & Water Watch, a U.S. consumer and environmental advocacy group, called the rejections “further evidence that these semi-privatized inspection systems that allow the companies to inspect their own meat product are ineffective.”
- NCBA’s Jerry Bohn says there is no doubt 75% Plan has increased negotiated trade
According to the Oklahoma Farm Report, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President, Jerry Bohn said he is pleased with the direction things are going under the 75% Plan – particularly in the Texas Panhandle where the volume of negotiated trade had almost reached zero.
Bohn commended producers for stepping up in the last several months to increase the amount of negotiated trade which he credits to their recognition of the need for a certain level of negotiated trade, and desire to avoid some kind of government mandate
Anticipating packer participation to remain a challenge in the quarter, Bohn said that it took a while to get coordinated with the big four, and that some have participated better than others.
NCBA has endorsed Congress’ Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021, but Bohn said while he doesn’t believe mandates are the way to equalize industry leverage between producers and packers, he believes the new bill is a way to make the business more transparent for producers.
- AFBF, NPPC file Prop 12 appeal to Supreme Court
National Beef Wire reported that the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Pork Producers Council have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take their case against California’s Proposition 12, which would ban the sale of pork from hogs that don’t meet the state’s arbitrary production standards.
“We’re asking the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of one state imposing regulations that reach far outside its borders and stifle interstate and international commerce,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “In this case, arbitrary animal housing standards that lack any scientific, technical or agricultural basis and that will only inflict harm on U.S. hog farmers.”
With nearly all pork currently produced in the United States failing to meet California’s arbitrary standards, to continue selling pork to the 40 million consumers who live in California, which represents about 15 percent of the U.S. pork market, pork producers would need to switch to alternative sow housing systems.
Industry estimates for converting sow barns or building new ones to meet the Prop 12 standards are in the billions of dollars, with consumers bearing the ultimate cost through higher pork prices.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “Supporters of Proposition 12 claimed it would improve animal welfare and food safety. The law fails to address either of those issues. Farmers know the best way to care for their animals. This law takes away the flexibility to ensure hogs are raised in a safe environment while driving up the cost of providing food for America’s families. Small family farms well beyond California’s borders will be hit hardest as they are forced to make expensive and unnecessary changes to their operations. This will lead to more consolidation in the pork industry and higher prices at the grocery store, meaning every family in America will ultimately pay the price for Prop 12.”