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Rep. Kat Cammack: The hits keep coming — Navigating the challenges of America’s cattle markets

Agri-Pulse
By Rep. Kat Cammack (FL-03)

As the only Florida Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, I have traveled extensively to meet producers across our district and great state to understand their challenges and unique needs. Florida’s cattle industry is not only the nation's second-leading state in cow-calf production but one of the top 15 largest in the United States. The cattle industry is an integral economic driver in the state, supporting a vast network of associated businesses. These allies include feed companies, heavy machinery corporations, fertilizer manufacturers, processors, and many others. 

What I hear on the ground from our producers in Florida is a far more nuanced and complex picture of the current challenges facing the livestock industry than the Biden administration and the current Majority in Congress are willing to admit. More importantly, what I see is an administration threatening a way of life, not just a business plan.

Our ranchers have dedicated their lives to stewarding their land and their cattle. These operations are often generational and have withstood the cyclical realities of the livestock industry. What producers in my district and throughout the sunshine state express to me is not a need for government solutions to perceived problems in the livestock space. Instead, they share their deep concern with me over government intervention and overreach that could jeopardize the future of their operations. Many of the mandates this Administration has proposed—the attacks on packers and all-out war on the livestock industry—and the battles that this administration has chosen to wage in the name of unfounded, unproven allegations, threaten to rob Florida’s livestock producers of a future for themselves and their children.

As a child, I grew up on a small cattle ranch in Castle Rock, Colorado, just outside of Denver. For the last decade, I’ve worked alongside Florida cattlemen and women. There certainly is no shortage of challenges already facing our nation’s cow-calf operations. Yet the Biden Administration has done nothing but foist additional. Dismissing the most basic economic principles that govern the livestock industry, let alone to do so at a time of an economic crisis, it is not uncommon for folks in Florida’s Third Congressional District to put it as simply as they can: they feel left behind.

Input costs continue to rise, specifically insurance costs and diesel for livestock haulers. As rising fuel costs take a toll on cattlemen, the day-to-day survival of their operations becomes ever more difficult. American consumers are feeling the bite of inflation, but the cost of doing business that our haulers are facing far exceeds the average rise in costs for American consumers, and the industry is now feeling a unique level of financial pain. Adding insult to injury, our nation’s supply chain has been hobbled by labor issues, a bloated regulatory regime, and an Administration that has done little to address these issues—despite the fact that our such supply chain woes have been long predicted and known since the first days of recovery from the pandemic. 

And then, of course labor continues to be an issue for our livestock producers, one that has transcended the difficulties of the pandemic and the post-pandemic economic challenges. Like many industries, the labor shortage is persistent and difficult to sate. Entry-level jobs often compete with government checks. Even when our producers offer wages far and above state and federal minimum wage rates, with generous incentives to boot, livestock operations continue to struggle to find workers.

In June, I spoke on the House Floor against a bill House Democrats claimed would lower food and fuel costs. Despite the misnomer in the bill’s title, H.R 7606 fell short in addressing the ongoing supply chain and inflationary crises hammering America’s farm families and consumers. For years, big government activists have neglected to take action to incentivize American production, including for our cattle producers. Instead, time and again, they have supported policies and legislation to limit our producers’ ability to meet global food demand and have consistently pushed a big-government, pro-regulation, one-size-fits-all approach.

Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee offered a different, more thoughtful path to bringing relief to our livestock industry and instead proposed H.R. 8069, the “Reducing Farm Input Costs and Barriers to Domestic Production Act.” This bill would reverse some of the harmful legislation proposed by this White House and ensure that our farmers, ranchers, agribusiness owners, and others are strengthened to support our food and agriculture supply chains.

We are committed to supporting our producers and ensuring their futures are not threatened by regulations, rising costs, labor shortages, and the other issues plaguing American agriculture. In November, Republicans will take the House back and prove to the American people that we are the party that truly has the backs of our livestock producers and will take up the fight against destructive policies that threaten their success and survival.

Congresswoman Kat Cammack proudly serves Florida’s 3rd Congressional District as the youngest Republican woman in the 117th Congress. She is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and serves as the lead Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery. Kat is a proud wife to her husband Matt, a Gainesville native, who serves as a firefighter/paramedic.
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