House approves bill to boost ag research

Legislative Watch: DOE, USDA partnership; meat industry in focus at climate summit; new bill looks to mute impact of Prop 12.

Eric Bohl

December 8, 2023

3 Min Read
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On Monday, the House of Representatives approved the DOE and USDA Interagency Research Act. While the bill would not provide additional money for ag research, it requires USDA and the Department of Energy to work together on biofuels, renewable energy, carbon storage, crop breeding issues and more. The agencies would be mandated to issue a report within two years outlining their collaboration.

The bill was sponsored by Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), who formerly chaired the Agriculture Committee. The bill passed the House on a voice vote but still must pass the Senate before going to President Biden’s desk for signature.

At a March committee hearing approving the bill, Lucas said, “The Department of Energy is uniquely positioned to advance our knowledge and solve scientific challenges. With its advanced computing capabilities, world-class research facilities, and tremendous expertise, DOE can conduct research on cross-cutting issues and help other federal agencies on their scientific priorities. Working with USDA, DOE can help advance crop science, enhance precision agriculture, maximize carbon storage, and improve rural energy infrastructure. Partnerships like this ensure we’re making the most of our taxpayer dollars.”

Meat industry in focus at climate summit

The world’s largest annual climate policy meeting kicked off this week in Dubai, and the livestock industry is drawing more attention than usual. This year, the conference is dedicating an entire day to the theme of “Food, Agriculture, and Water,” putting farming’s impact on climate in the crosshairs. The special themed day will be Sunday, December 10. The COP28 conference runs the first two weeks of December and is expected to draw more than 84,000 attendees from around the world.

In conjunction with the event, the U.N. is releasing a roadmap to align agriculture with the Paris Agreement and call for wealthy countries to eat less meat and dairy. According to activists, the agriculture and food industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, the bulk of which are attributed to animal agriculture.

American livestock producers decided to take their message directly to the conference, educating attendees about the industry’s sustainability improvements and positive story. JBS and the North American Meat Institute are on-site talking about the ways in which animal agriculture is beneficial to the environment and provides sustainable nutrition.

New bill looks to mute impact of Prop 12

California’s Proposition 12 regulations are slated to go into effect Jan. 1, dramatically increasing restrictions on pork sold inside the state’s borders. While the original ballot initiative was passed in 2018, implementation has been held up in litigation for years. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer cleared the path for the Jan. 1 start date.

Last week, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced the Protecting Interstate Commerce for Livestock Producers Act. According to Hawley, the bill would preempt state and local governments from regulating the raising, production and importation of livestock or livestock-derived goods from another state or local government; allow states to regulate the importation of livestock in the event of animal disease; and protect farmers from states implementing laws that are preempted by the bill.

“Missouri’s livestock producers keep food on the table across America and costly laws shouldn’t burden them – made by other states – that disrupt interstate commerce, drive-up costs and impose crippling regulations,” said Hawley. “This law is a commonsense solution to protect family farms from going bankrupt and consumers from shouldering higher costs at the grocery store.”

Another bill, the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act was introduced earlier this year by Sen. Roger Marshall, (R-Kan.) and Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa). Some members of Congress have pushed for its inclusion in a new farm bill, but to date no action has been announced.

About the Author(s)

Eric Bohl

Eric Bohl is an agricultural policy leader with extensive experience on Capitol Hill. He served six years as Chief of Staff to Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and previously served as Legislative Director to Rep. Hartzler. During that time, he led her work on the House Agriculture Committee and was influential in efforts to craft the 2014 Farm Bill, as well as handling environmental, energy, transportation and infrastructure, and agricultural trade issues.

Eric’s experience starts at the ground level. His family has deep roots in both animal and row-crop farming going back several generations. This understanding of the unique challenges real farmers face brings valuable perspective to help solve clients’ needs. His midwestern values also allow him to build meaningful relationships with people on both sides of the political aisle and find common-sense solutions that transcend partisan lines.

This approach has continued to be the cornerstone of Eric’s career in grassroots advocacy. He served more than five years as Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy for Missouri Farm Bureau. He was a senior member of the organization’s legislative team and led communications and coalition advocacy efforts, including on the 2018 Farm Bill. His writings on agriculture and rural policy have been published in newspapers across the nation. He serves as First Vice President of the St. Louis Agribusiness Club and is a board member of the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City, two of the nation’s largest and strongest organizations supporting agribusinesses.

Before his career in public policy, Eric was a practicing attorney for nearly five years, focusing on real estate and agricultural law, commercial transactions, and commercial litigation. Eric earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri, graduating from both programs with honors, and served as the Managing Editor of the Missouri Law Review.

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