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POLICY WATCH

Fischer’s Cattle Markets Bill Passes Through Senate Ag Committee

The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), recently passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The bill would make several changes to the way cattle are marketed in the U.S. including:

  1. Require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish 5-7 regions encompassing the entire continental U.S. and then establish minimum levels of fed cattle purchases made through approved pricing mechanisms. Approved pricing mechanisms are fed cattle purchases made through negotiated cash, negotiated grid, at a stockyard, and through trading systems that multiple buyers and sellers regularly can make and accept bids. These pricing mechanisms will ensure robust price discovery.
  1. Establish a maximum penalty for covered packers of $90,000 for mandatory minimum violations. Covered packers are defined as those packers that during the immediately preceding five years have slaughtered five percent or more of the number of fed cattle nationally.
  1. The bill also includes provisions to create a publicly available library of marketing contracts, mandating box beef reporting to ensure transparency, expediting the reporting of cattle carcass weights, and requiring a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. The contract library would be permanently authorized and specify key details about the contents that must be included in the library like the duration of the contract and provisions in the contract that may impact price such as schedules, premiums and discounts, and transportation arrangements.

Following passage of the legislation, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue released the following statement:

“Today’s successful Senate Ag Committee mark-up of the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act is a win for Nebraska’s cattle producers who have long asked for additional price discovery and transparency opportunities. Without the hard work and dedication of Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer, this important piece of legislation would not have taken this significant step forward. Nebraska Farm Bureau members from around our great state stand firmly behind Sen. Fischer’s tireless efforts to find compromise on this unbelievably complex issue.”

The legislation now moves to the full Senate, but the timeline for passage remains unclear.

NEFB Submits Comments on the SEC Climate Rule

Nebraska Farm Bureau recently submitted formal comments to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on their proposed rule to require companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions. The rule would impose extensive new, complex, and burdensome greenhouse gas reporting requirements on all entities within a company’s value chain, including farmers and ranchers who fall outside of the SEC’s congressionally provided authority. The required information about climate-related risks would also include disclosure of a registrant’s greenhouse gas emissions, which have become a commonly used metric to assess a registrant’s exposure to such risks. In addition, under the proposed rules, certain climate-related financial metrics would be required in a registrant’s audited financial statements.

“While farmers and ranchers are interested in continuing to engage in the topic of climate, this heavy-handed approach by an agency that has no historic role in this arena should not be allowed to move forward,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue said.

Under the proposed rules, a registrant would be required to disclose Scope 3 emissions if such emissions are material or included in a previously disclosed emissions reduction target or goal. The proposed rules define Scope 3 emissions as, “all indirect GHG emissions not otherwise included in a registrant’s Scope 2 emissions, which occur in the upstream and downstream activities of a registrant’s value chain.” The proposed rules will inevitably require registrants to pass the costs and burdens of reporting Scope 3 emissions onto farmers and ranchers. To view NEFB’s comments, please click here.

Thank you to the 287 Nebraska Farm Bureau members who sent emails opposing the rule.

Farm Bureau Joins Lincoln’s Water Source Advisory Council

The Nebraska Farm Bureau governmental relations team was invited to be a part of Lincoln’s “Mayor’s Water Source Advisory Council.” As Lincoln continues to grow in population, the city has announced a plan to secure a second water source to meet future demand. This council’s role is to provide input from various interested industries and groups. Nebraska Farm Bureau is the only advocate for agriculture on this council and will ensure that no egregious actions against agricultural water sources take place.

According to projections from the city, there is adequate water supply for Lincoln for the next 26 years. However, Lincoln is looking at other examples of growing cities that have waited too long to secure sources of water, often times to their peril.

This council will meet each month for the remainder of 2022 to hear from Ollson Associates, the lead engineer for the project. Ollson will present its findings and work with the council with various options for consideration. Our job from there will be to make sure that the options being considered take into account water availability, access, affordability, and quality. But most importantly, that what is decided works for agricultural producers around Lincoln.

Supreme Court Delivers Blow to EPA Climate Regulations

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered their opinion in West Virginia v. EPA, a case focused on the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that regulated greenhouse gas emissions from both old and new electricity generation facilities. While the rule never went into effect, the energy sector ended up moving away from coal-fired power plants, and EPA is promising additional regulations in the weeks ahead. The 6-3 decision by the Court however, struck a huge blow to efforts to use federal agencies to expand the regulatory reach of the federal government. The Court ruled that the EPA does not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.

“Under that doctrine’s terms, administrative agencies must be able to point to ‘clear congressional authorization’ when they claim the power to make decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance,” Justice Neil Gorsuch said in a concurring opinion, quoting a previous Supreme Court decision. Farm Bureau will have more analysis on this decision and what it may mean for future cases in the days ahead.

Urban District Evaluation of Legislative Candidates Underway

Nebraska Farm Bureau’s (NEFB) Urban District Evaluation Committee (DEC) met this week to hear from legislative candidates from urban areas. This is part of the large process NEFB goes through to decide if and how to get involved in a political race.

The Urban DEC is made up of county board members in urban counties that interview candidates in urban areas to make recommendations to the next round of the endorsement process, the NEFB-PAC Executive Committee. The NEFB-PAC Executive Committee, which is made up of state board members, then votes on those recommendations and their determination is then presented to the state board of directors for approval.

As the General Election ramps up, the involvement of our Urban DEC is instrumental in developing relationships with future legislators. It is especially important because many of those candidates do not have experience with rural or agricultural issues. Ensuring that these urban legislators speak to our issues during their campaign and learn about them going into their tenure is an importance that cannot be understated.

U.S. Solicitor General Supports AFBF Challenge to California’s Proposition 12

The U.S. Solicitor General, one of the highest ranking officials in the Department of Justice, filed a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a challenge to California’s Proposition 12. The state law seeks to ban the sale of pork from hogs that don’t meet California’s production standards, even if the pork was raised on farms outside of California. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) filed the challenge, arguing Proposition 12 violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

In the amicus brief, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argues that AFBF and NPPC have stated a valid claim that Proposition 12 violates the constitution and will create burdens in interstate commerce.

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