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Trump signs omnibus spending bill, ag approves

Beef producers hail victories in massive legislation

After tweeting a threat to veto the legislation, President Trump signed a 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, which will keep the government funded through Sept. 30.

However, the measure contained several measures important to beef producers. According to the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, those measures include:

  • CERCLA reporting: The omnibus includes the FARM Act, commonsense legislation spearheaded by NCBA, to exempt agricultural producers from reporting low-concentration ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions to the federal government. The language is narrowly tailored to exempt agricultural reporting under CERCLA for air emissions due to the natural breakdown of manure. This fix was urgently needed due to a recent court decision that, effective May 1, 2018, would have eliminated a regulatory exemption that had been in place for 10 years.
  • Electronic logging devices (ELDs): Section 132 of the omnibus prohibits funds from being used to enforce the electronic logging device rule with respect to carriers transporting livestock or insects, effectively delaying the ELD enforcement date for livestock haulers through September 2018. This provides the Department of Transportation additional time for industry concerns to be addressed, as well as necessary educational training on the actual ELDs and livestock exemptions.
  • Section 199A fix: Language in the omnibus corrects an issue in The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 which provided co-ops with a major advantage over other companies. The fix replicates as closely as possible the old Section 199 and is retroactive to Jan.1.
  • Cattle Health Account: Bill allocates $96.5 million under the Cattle Health Account, including $5 million specifically for the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program.

According to the National Pork Producers Council, as many as 200,000 livestock producers were facing a May 1 deadline for reporting emissions under CERCLA, otherwise known as the Superfund law. Under the initial court-ordered Nov. 1`5, 2017 deadline, some producers tried filing reports, but the Coast Guard’s NRC system was overwhelmed.

The pork industry was prepared to comply with the reporting mandates, NPPC says, but EPA, the Coast Guard and state and local emergency response authorities said they didn’t want or need the information, which could have interfered with their legitimate emergency functions.

 

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