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Ag & Food Policy Committee Meets

Omnibus Appropriations Bill takes center stage at Ag & Food Policy meeting.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jan. 29, 2014) — The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Agriculture & Food Policy Committee met briefly Friday, Jan. 29, as part of a series of NCBA Policy Committee Meetings at the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show in San Diego.

Chairman Kent Bamford opened the meeting and moderated dialogue between committee members and attendees.

The omnibus, which Congress passed in December with bipartisan support, took center stage at the committee meeting. The $1.15 trillion Omnibus Appropriations Bill contained several victories for the cattle industry, including the continued recognition of lean meats as part of a healthy diet.

Kristina Butts, senior executive director of governmental affairs for NCBA, spoke in depth on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The first edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released in 1980. It is reviewed, updated and published every five years.

Initially, the 2015 revision removed recognition of lean meats as being part of a healthy diet, and talked about the “overconsumption” of red meats in American diets. NCBA reported that the Advisory Committee contradicted itself on numerous occasions and the final ruling to remove lean meats from their recommendation of a healthy diet was inconsistent with more than 30 years of scientific research supporting the role of lean meats in a healthy diet.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report was made available to the public Feb. 19, 2015. The conversation around the report garnered more than 29,000 comments from the public by the closing of the public comment period on May 8, 2015.

Activist groups, including animal rights, vegetarian, vegan and other agriculture-opposing groups united against the beef industry to try to support the new guidelines, Butts said. The omnibus maintains Congressional oversight to ensure the guidelines remain true to the best interests of Americans’ nutrition and health.

The omnibus also repealed mandatory country-of-origin labeling (mCOOL), a significant win for American cattle producers.

As a final note on the omnibus, the committee addressed environmental issues, including actions keeping the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from requiring a livestock producer to obtain Clean Air Act permits or report greenhouse gas emissions on livestock operations. The EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule is not included in the omnibus, but a nationwide stay is in place and NCBA will continue to push back on the rule through the courts.

Working groups presented their updates next, starting with the Immigration Working group. It was decided that the subject of immigration reform would be difficult, if not impossible, to bring forward in an election year.

Other working groups presented updates on producer outreach, beef grading, and relationships with packers.

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