Nebraska Cattlemen Comments on Biden Administration Efforts
Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) submitted comments concerning two ongoing federal efforts with potential long-term impacts to cattle industry business continuity. The first, NC responded to USDA’s solicitation for public comments on how to best address challenges and increase competition in the meat and poultry processing industry through $500 million in infrastructure and other investments.
NC’s comments on USDA’s Request for Information (RFI) reflected the goals of the Association’s members by requesting that grants, low or no interest guaranteed loans, or other available funding be available retroactively for companies that chose to respond to the immediate need of additional processing capacity. Additionally, NC highlighted the need to invest beyond physical Infrastructure by dedicating funding for business plan development programming, automation research, and working collaboratively with other federal agencies to modify immigration programs to be workable for livestock producers and processors alike.
“In addition to investing in physical processing infrastructure, we believe it is equally important to invest in the business and workforce development components of the beef cattle processing industry. This includes providing resources for small, medium, and independent beef cattle processors to develop robust business plans and workforce training programs.” William H. Rhea III, President – Nebraska Cattlemen “We also highly encouraged USDA to invest in the research and development of technology to increase automation throughout the processing sector. The development of such processes will allow processors to maintain certain levels of throughput, even when workforce challenges exist.”
NC urged USDA to be especially vigilant of high levels of consolidation and concentration within the meat packing and processing industry when considering where to allocate funding. Small, medium, and independent processors contribute not only to supply chain resilience, but also improve producer leverage in fed cattle price negotiations by increasing competition in the marketplace.
In addition to submitting comments to USDA, NC also submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers regarding their request to hear from interested stakeholders on perspectives pertaining to the definition of ‘‘waters of the United States’’ (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act as the Agency begins their effort to revise the WOTUS definition from the 2020 rule.
While the Agencies have yet to propose a revised definition, their intent is to modify the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) through two rulemakings: a “foundational rule” to restore longstanding protections, and a second rulemaking process that builds on that regulatory foundation.
“Nebraska Cattlemen members support the current Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) because it provides for an individual state to maintain control over their own ephemeral and isolated features, while providing much-needed clarity and certainty to adjacent agricultural operations.” Rhea “The current NWPR correctly limits jurisdiction over adjacent wetlands to those that are abutting or have a direct hydrological surface connection to a navigable water.”
The agencies intend to publish a formal proposal of the first-step “foundational rule” by the end of 2021.
NC leadership and staff will continue to monitor the progress of these two efforts and engage as necessary to reflect the goals of NC members.