Snapshot 2014: Cornerstone Updates its Efforts on Behalf of ASI, Sheep ProducersCornerstone Government Affairs
On behalf of the Food and Agriculture team at Cornerstone Government Affairs, we are honored to be working on behalf of the American Sheep Industry Association in Washington, D.C.
Since July, Cornerstone has worked diligently on ASI’s behalf to ensure that priorities (Livestock Forage and Livestock Indemnity Programs, Sheep Production and Marketing Grants Program, National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, Loan Deficiency Program, the Wool Trust and immigration reform amongst others) end up where they belong: in the “win” column.
Granted, as we write this, and as you receive it in the January 2014 Sheep Industry News, the Farm Bill, immigration reform and appropriations remain unresolved.
That being said, on Dec. 12, the House passed by voice vote a one-month extension of the Farm Bill in order to give the Conferees time to work through remaining differences and prepare the legislative language for final passage when Congress returns in January.
Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) reported that the Conferees have a basic framework for both the commodity title and the nutrition title. Staff was expected to work over the Christmas break to finalize and flesh out the framework.
In his floor statement on the extension, Lucas recognized that although the House left for Christmas break, the four principals may have needed to return to complete action on outstanding framework and individual minor issues that must be resolved by members before a final package can be assembled. The fate of the one-month extension was uncertain in the Senate because Secretary Vilsack had assured members that it would take USDA several days to implement permanent law changes for dairy, so there was no need for an extension.
Whether the extension is needed or not remained to be seen. Certainly from a legal standpoint, the extension is required. Maybe it is the influence of the Christmas season on a particularly rancorous Congress, but the optimistic mood of the Conferees was aligned with the holiday season and expectations of a farm bill in January.
We are confident that this has given the Conferees ample time to work through any remaining differences and prepare the legislative language necessary for final passage.
It appears good news is on the horizon for the budget/appropriations front for Fiscal Year 2014, all without having to face the annual assault from those who value a coyote more than your right to feed your families.
We expect an omnibus appropriations bill to be enacted into law in mid-to late January containing full funding for Wildlife Services and other programs important to sheep producers, and a return to regular order in 2015.
Unfortunately, the forecast for immigrations reform is much cloudier. While ASI’s priorities are in good shape in both the House and the Senate, real momentum for immigration reform has yet to reach the level required for success.
However, maybe the recent budget agreement will serve as a model for future success. Regardless, the ASI family needs to stay vigilant and engaged on both fronts.
Our Food and Agriculture team is well situated to work on your behalf in D.C. Jim Richards, Vernie Hubert, Hunt Shipman and the rest of the team at Cornerstone each have a tremendous background in agriculture policy and process. They are fully vested in the intricacies of public policy and politics that affects the sheep industry.
In addition, each of those working on behalf of sheep producers grew up as “Aggies” and have fond memories of working on sheep issues during their time working on the Hill in Washington, D.C.
In fact, Richards still proudly displays his ASI Guard Dog Program bronze in his office. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to once again be part of the ASI family.