The two main sponsors of cattle marketing reform legislation are now split over whether to try to include the measure in the farm bill.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says his chief co-sponsor of the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act, Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), now wants to take a different path. Grassley says, “Senator Fischer, one of our main leaders in this area, has told the leadership of the committee that she doesn’t want it included in the farm bill. So, with her saying that, it’s pretty difficult for us to move ahead for it.”
A spokesperson for Senator Fischer’s office responded to comment on this story by saying; “Sen. Fischer is committed to getting her cattle market reform bill done. We’re also focused on getting the Farm Bill passed. Strategically, the best path forward to getting Fischer’s cattle bill signed into law is as a separate legislative effort. In the Senate, given the vast, bipartisan support for the bill, Sen. Schumer should give the legislation a vote on the floor this fall.”
Grassley says he could still bring up the measure during farm bill debate, as enough Ag senators support the bill to help independent producers through regional negotiated pricing. And Grassley’s counting on Montana Democrat Jon Tester pressing Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for floor time on a freestanding bill. Grassley, “He needs that legislation to get reelected, and I would think Schumer would want to do all he could to help Tester get reelected, because it’s very much a Republican state.”
Separately, Grassley’s hearing that lawmakers may have to pass short-term spending ‘til November to cover unfinished appropriations bills. Grassley says, “It won’t get done by September 30, but I see a real, good-faith effort to move separate appropriation bills this year.”
With all 12 bills already reported by Senate appropriators for the first time since the 1990s, though House bills, including Ag, have already hit a quagmire of conservative opposition.
As for Senate Ag moving a farm bill, Grassley says “I think that it probably will be early October. I haven’t seen enough movement yet to say that it could be done in September.”
House Ag Chair GT Thompson plans to move his farm bill through committee next month, though appropriations fights could eat up floor time needed for a farm bill in September, when current farm law expires.