Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposed Farm Bill amendment 2252 has the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee chairman Tim Talbot concerned about the possibility of subsequent animal agriculture mandates.
The amendment, which would mandate on-farm production practices, was also introduced as legislation called the Egg Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 (S. 3239 and H.R. 3298), by Sen. Feinstein and Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).
"This legislation opens up Pandora's Box on Capitol Hill. While this bill currently only applies to the egg industry, it's not a far stretch to see it applied to all animal agriculture," Talbot, also a veterinarian and California cattle rancher said
Despite challenges cattlemen and women face, raising healthy cattle is and always has been a top priority, Talbot said.
"The U.S. beef community has changed through the years, but the one thing that remains the same is our commitment to raising healthy cattle and providing our animals the best care possible," Talbot said. "NCBA's Cattle Health and Wellbeing Committee relies on the latest information from government officials, veterinarians and cattle health experts to ensure our policies reflect the latest science and ensure effective cattle care practices on cattle operations throughout the country."
Talbot said while cattlemen make it their top priority to care for their animals, there are organizations that attempt to paint a different picture of animal agriculture. Talbot said the amendment to the farm bill would codify an agreement entered into by the Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers to seek federal legislation to mandate egg production practices. Talbot said the agreement creates a slippery slope to allow the federal government to mandate on-farm production practices for all sectors of the agricultural industry.
"Cattlemen proactively worked with veterinarians and cattle health experts to develop production guidelines. We worked together to improve our industry. Unfortunately, a one-size fits all federal mandate telling farmers and ranchers how to do their jobs is not acceptable."
According to the NCBA, such mandates in other countries have already changed production. In Britain, NCBA reports, hen housing conversion has increased daily operating costs by 8%, and in Bulgaria and Poland, where enriched cages are mandated, egg prices have increased 40%.