Lawmakers urge USDA to restore 3 NASS surveys

U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann outlines priorities he has for the next farm bill based on input from farmers and ranchers. (Journal photo by Dave Bergmeier.)

Rural ag lawmakers working on a bipartisan basis are asking Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to reverse the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to cancel three National Agricultural Statistics Service reports.

U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann, R-Kansas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry, along with Rep. Jim Costa, D-California, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, led 70 of their colleagues in penning a letter to Vilsack. They urged him to reverse the USDA’s decision to cancel or discontinue the July Cattle Report, Cotton Yield Objective Survey and all County Estimates for Crops and Livestock.

USDA made the cancellation decision after officials said Congress did not approve the appropriated funding level for NASS until halfway through the fiscal year. NASS reviewed its program areas and decided to make those cuts. The lawmakers noted that while NASS has seen a modest year-over-year appropriation reduction, the costs to the industry will be more adverse than savings the agency may realize through stopping the reports.

Reports needed for farmers

The lawmakers contend the reports provide American farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers with transparent livestock, grain and fiber market insights as they position themselves to effectively manage risk and build supply and demand estimates, which help determine commodity sourcing plans to remain operational.

“Droughts, wildfires, sky-high inflation, market fluctuation and input costs have all driven producers’ risk to an all-time high,” Mann said. He is pictured above. “USDA’s decision to cancel the July Cattle Report and discontinue the Cotton Yield Objective Survey and all County Estimates for Crops and Livestock only exacerbates that risk.

“The USDA’s annual reports on markets and statistics help our farmers and ranchers make informed decisions on the crops they are going to plant and how they manage their livestock,” Moran said. “Our producers face uncertainty from the weather, market demands, inflation and more. Eliminating these resources creates greater uncertainty for the agriculture industry and harms our producers’ ability to forecast future demands in the market.”

Information needed

The May 3 letter also indicated that information, particularly from the County Estimates for Crops and Livestock, can help researchers better understand the devastation caused by droughts over the past year and most recently the Smokehouse Creek Fire that burned through the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma.

Other signers from the High Plains Journal coverage area included U.S. Sens. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, John Coryn, R-Texas, Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, Jon Tester, D-Montana, James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, Steve Daines, R-Montana, Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, Pete Ricketts, R-Nebraska, Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, Josh Hawley, R-Missouri and John Thune, R-South Dakota. House members who signed included Reps. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, Steve Womack, R-Arkansas, Dean Phillips, D-Minnesota, Yadira Caraveo, D-Colorado, Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma, Rick Crawford, R-Arkansas, Adrian Smith, R-Nebraska, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas; Rep. Don Bacon, R-Nebraska, Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa; Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa; Jake LaTurner, R-Kansas, August Pfluger, R-Texas, Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, Mike Flood, R-Nebraska, Brad Finstad, R-Minnesota, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, Mark Alford, R-Missouri and Jake Ellzey, R-Texas.

The letter is supported by the National Grain and Feed Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Cotton Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, Livestock Marketing Association, Beef Alliance and Livestock Marketing and Dealers Association.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].