June 30, 2011
On Tuesday, June 28, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing entitled “The State of Livestock in America.” The hearing focused on rising feed prices due to increased worldwide demand for grains, the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Act that is still awaiting the issuance of a final rule by the Obama Administration, export markets, and progress on conservation programs that address natural resource concerns.
The Committee heard testimony from two panels – the first was a slate of USDA officials including: Dr. Joe Glauber, Chief Economist for the USDA; Dr. Greg Parham, Administrator of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Dr. Alfred Almanza, Administrator of the Food Safety Inspection Service; and Dave White, Chief of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).
The Chief of NRCS highlighted progress made by the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). White noted that between 2002 and 2010 EQIP has issued 150,000 contracts to implement conservation practices with livestock producers. He also reported that CSP has enrolled a total of 34 million acres over the last three years of the program and roughly half of that is on grass- and range land used to raise livestock. The 34 million acres will increase to close to 38 million acres once NRCS completes contracts with all the farmers and ranchers accepted into the program in 2011.
The second panel included representatives from the livestock industry and farmers unions. Rick Sietsema, Farmer, Sietsema Farms Allendale, MI; Dennis O. Jones, Pork Producer, South Dakota Farmers Union Bath, SD; Steven D. Hunt, Chief Executive Officer, US Premium Beef LLC Kansas City, MO; Frank Harper, President-elect, Kansas Livestock Association Sedgwick, KS; Michael Welch, President and CEO, Harrison Poultry, Inc. Bethlehem, GA; Hans McPherson, Rancher and Member, Montana Farm Bureau Stevensville, MT.
You can watch the entire hearing and read full testimony of each witness on the Senate Agriculture Committee website.