Preparing for the New Farm BillCHASE ADAMS
ASI Senior Policy and Information Director
ASI’s Legislative Council discussed key topics for the sheep industry, including preparations for the upcoming Farm Bill and the fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2018 appropriations process during the council’s meeting at the ASI Annual Convention.
Jim Richards and Vernie Hubert from Cornerstone Government Affairs – who represent ASI in Washington, D.C. – worked with the council to set the legislative priorities for the year ahead.
The top appropriations priorities for the sheep industry include funding for USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services predator management, prohibitions on removing domestic sheep allotments in preference to wild sheep without adequate scientific foundation or the availability of equivalent alternative allotments, funding for the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station and funding for the APHIS scrapie eradication program.
As sheep producers look to the upcoming Farm Bill negotiations, a number of priorities were discussed. Specifically, updates to and reauthorization of the Wool Marketing Loan program, support for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, extension of the wool trust to market and promote U.S. wool and support for a multi-species Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank. The current Farm Bill will expire on Sept. 30, 2018, and the process for the next bill is already underway. The first of what are expected to be many field hearings was held Feb. 23 in Manhattan, Kan.
In addition to the Farm Bill and priorities in the appropriations process, ASI will also be looking at opportunities for meaningful tax reform and continuing to engage in discussions on immigration reform, ensuring sheep producers have a guest worker program that recognizes the unique role of H-2A visa holders in the sheep industry. Federal lands issues discussed in the Resource Management Council meeting, Mandatory Price Reporting, withdraw of the Waters of the United States final rule and Endangered Species Act reform were also specifically called out in renewed policy as legislative priorities.
ASI’s annual legislative conference is set for March 27-29 in Washington, D.C. With these issues facing the industry and the opportunity for regulatory relief, this will be a critical time to engage with Congress and the new administration.