Farm Bill Hearing: House Ag Committee Hear from Livestock Producers On Improving Sustainability
Today on the Hill, the House Ag Committee heard from livestock producers about what’s needed to improve sustainability.
The 2023 Farm Bill conversation is underway and lawmakers are considering how to fund conservation programs.
Melvin Medeiros, a Fresno County California Dairy Producer, told the committee he was able to utilize NRCS programs to implement a better nutrient management strategy on his farm.
“Funding through NRCS, equip programs, those are all extremely valuable tools for producers today, you know, and going forward. You know, we need that funding to continue because, you know, one shoe doesn’t fit all. We’ve got to remember that digesters will not end up in every dairy because it’s just not economically feasible.”
Rosie Burroughs representing the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition shared her experience with regenerative practices and called on congress to level the regulatory playing field between large conventional operations and smaller organic producers.
“The economic viability did not work because we do not have an equal playing bill when the NOP has not enforced the pasture rule uniformly across the nation. And congress has directed the LP to publish the final rule on or Oregon. Origin of livestock but the NOP has not done that.”
Research was also a priority for the witnesses and Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson from Colorado State University said it’s time to update livestock emissions technology to establish a better baseline.
“We’ve modeled this for a very long time of course using emissions data, but the actual absolute emissions that we use to factor like create those emission factors are based on data from past equipment, right, so putting those animals in, in respiration chambers or whole animal chambers and I’m worried we’re not getting accurate baseline emissions from the types of cattle that we have today.”
The US roundtable for sustainable poultry and eggs is also looking into creating better metrics to measure sustainability according to Ernie Meier, Director of Quality Systems for McDonalds.
“Every producer is monitoring their energy use and they receive whether it’s an electric bill, diesel bill, natural gas bill, and so they have a baseline that they can then put into the system. They’ll know where they stand in what they are measuring, when we generate all of our data and we have our final reports that we will release once we have this tool launched well, the bed producer will then be able to benchmark where they are amongst other producers and the industry itself.”
He says the online tool is set to launch this year and will include data from producers and integrators to help the industry benchmark and set new targets.
The mood in the hearing was also colored by some frustration over a New York Times editorial published this week criticizing the livestock industry for not being sustainable enough with several witnesses saying it shows agriculture needs to do more to connect with consumers. We will have more on that tomorrow on the market day report.