Food security and packing capacity are priorities in the upcoming Farm Bill
As conversations lead up to the 2023 Farm Bill, many in the ag community are asking if the farm and nutrition portions can be separated, and it all has to do with public perception.
Todd Nash is the Oregon Cattle Association president. He says he does not have an issue with those nutritional elements, such as SNAP and WIC being included in the Farm Bill, but what he does take issue with is the way the legislation is often portrayed. He says for this Farm Bill, he is hopeful lawmakers will use clear language so taxpayers do not look at the 2023 Farm Bill as a giveaway for farmers and ranchers.
“When in fact, if you zeroed that down to the 20 percent that is eligible for, and then you get through all of the Administrative costs of all of that, what actually gets put in the hands of farmers and ranchers to help them through rough times or to do conservation work, is something distorted by that larger numbers,” said Nash.
As far as the legislation itself is concerned, Nash would like lawmakers to address the needs of packing capacity as well as food security. He says if done correctly, the U.S. cattle producer, the consumer, and everyone, will win.
“One of the bright spots that we see as agriculturalists, we have an average across the United States, somewhere around 35 head per ranch. So, we have this distribution of cattle scattered around that lends to food security, but what we discovered with COVID, though, is that concentration of that processing, if we have a breakdown in that, it makes us vulnerable. So, it’s one of those things that we want to take a look at,” Nash said.
Overall, nutrition accounts for 80 percent of the total 2018 Farm Bill, with SNAP accounting for 95 percent of all spending.