NTF: Standing Up for the Poultry Industry

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) is a national advocate for the turkey farmer and processors who works to represent their point of view to Congress and federal agencies. In recent months, the NTF has issued several issue papers on current and proposed legislation.

At Jones-Hamilton, we work to stay on top of any and all issues that affect the growers and producers we serve. In this series, we will summarize the NTF’s position and help you understand how these three policies can affect your business.

Part 1 of 3: Farm Bill Reauthorization

It is of the utmost importance that the Department of Agriculture is allowed to work with rural Americans and poultry companies through several key provisions within the Farm Bill. Adding sections to the bill, which help clarify new regulatory powers and legal rules used by the USDA’s oversight branches, are necessary to ensure farmers are not adversely affected by over regulation. While the administration’s reduction of rules regarding production and marketing are positive for farmers, there are still concerns that any new regulations could negatively affect relationships between farmers and processors.

Another important provision involves the Environmental Quality Incentive Program’s (EQUIP) use of $1.7 billion for conservation programs with 60 percent given to livestock and poultry farmers. This allocation is a major resource for poultry farmers dealing with increasing environmental regulations from both local and federal governments. Turkey farmers bear a strenuous burden of responsibly for land stewardship and EQIP is the most efficient way of aiding them in meeting these responsibilities.

The USDA’s Rural Efficiency program is meant to promote commercial financial support of renewable energy projects. The House version of the Farm Bill closes a loophole allowing corn-based ethanol projects to monopolize these funds, even though ethanol is already a well-financed, mature industry without dire need of assistance. Turkey farmers, on the other hand, have a need for funding to help mitigate the significant costs of upgrading their facilities to be more efficient, the intended use of the REAP program.

The current Farm Bill language provides potential help to poultry farmers needing business interruption insurance. Poultry farmers have unique business disruption needs; therefore, a good first step to address this involves completing a study elucidating the most efficient method of helping farmers solve this problem. Business interruption insurance is an unmet need with the potential to be fulfilled by the Risk Management Association (RMA).

The United States has a vast and unwieldy bureaucratic structure for handling our massive export system. The US has a $37 billion net trade surplus, yet the USDA’s trade organizational structure has not changed or adapted in over thirty years. Global markets and world trade have altered significantly in the past thirty years, as has the role of the U.S.; therefore it is time for the USDA to adapt along with the rest of the world. Creating a new Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs will help the USDA focus on its role in trade and create opportunities for effective coordination between agencies. This position has the potential to give the USDA’s trade section high-level representation within the Executive Branch, to advocate for the needs of farmers.

Another important issue for farmers involves the National Poultry Improvement Plan as it pertains to poultry disease monitoring. The House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill strongly support the NPIP in order to strengthen guards against disease, an important function within the poultry and meat industries.