Senate still showing no movement on efforts to block Prop 12

Legislative Watch: Grassley vows to continue to fight; USDA announces new rule governing poultry contracts; Iowa governor asks for more aggressive vaccination efforts.

Eric Bohl

June 7, 2024

3 Min Read
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The House Agriculture Committee’s recent action to approve a new farm bill included a provision strongly pushing back against California’s Proposition 12. The provisions of the 2018 ballot initiative recently went into effect, imposing strict requirements on production of pork, eggs and veal if they are to be sold inside California, regardless of where the animals were raised. If the House bill were to become law, it would ban this type of law and only allow states to impose production standards on livestock inside their own borders.

Despite this strong stance in the House, senior Senate Agriculture Committee member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says his chamber has seen “no movement” on efforts to push back against California’s law. 

“We haven’t had a discussion, what we call markup, of a chairman’s mark in the Agriculture Committee and (Prop 12) would have to come up at that point,” Grassley told Brownfield Ag News this week.

Opposition to “Prop 12,” as the measure has become known, has been led by hog producers who feel California should not be allowed to dictate production methods in other states. A group of pork producers challenged the law, but their efforts were unsuccessful last year at the Supreme Court. Grassley and others have vowed to continue to fight the perceived overreach through the farm bill and other legislation.

USDA announces new rule governing poultry contracts

This week, USDA announced a new proposed rule intended to level the playing field in the poultry industry and give growers more power in their contractual relationships. The rule, called “Poultry Grower Payment Systems and Capital Improvement Systems,” would set a pricing floor for broiler chicken contracts, only allowing bonuses for performance. It also would require more information for growers when being asked to undertake capital improvement efforts and beef up USDA’s enforcement oversight. Tournament systems would also see safeguards installed to ensure they are “conducted in a reasonable and equitable way that does not disadvantage specific growers,” according to USDA.

“Poultry growers deserve a fair shake and consumers deserve fair prices,” said USDA Senior Advisor for Fair and Competitive Markets Andy Green. “This proposed rule is intended to provide growers with a clear base price in contracts, a contracting partner that designs and operates any comparisons fairly, and access to the information that growers—and USDA—need to identify and halt coercive investment demands before growers take on large debts. We look forward to taking comment from all interested parties.”

Interested parties have 60 days to submit comments through Regulations.gov. The new proposed rule is the third of a series of three rules designed to increase competition in livestock markets, create a fairer playing field for producers, and lower grocery prices for consumers.

Iowa governor asks for more aggressive vaccination efforts

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) is calling on USDA “to prioritize and expedite the approval process for animal vaccines designed to combat foreign animal diseases and other diseases threatening the U.S. agriculture industry.” She is also requesting that USDA allocate resources and support research efforts to develop innovative vaccines and vaccination strategies.

“The recent outbreaks of diseases such as highly pathogenic avian influenza in dairy cattle and poultry, as well as the recent outbreak of Avian Metapneumovirus in Iowa turkey farms, underscores the need for proactive measures to prevent and control future outbreaks,” Reynolds said. “Vaccine development and approvals are critical to ensure the health and safety of our nation’s livestock and poultry operations.”

USDA’s Center for Veterinary Biologics is located in Ames, Iowa, and leads the department’s scientific oversight of veterinary countermeasures. This week, HPAI was detected in dairy cattle in Iowa and Minnesota, bringing the total number of states with infected herds to 11.

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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