The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, a diverse package of initiatives from meat packing plants to year round E15, despite opposition by the majority of Republicans. The final vote was 221-204, with seven Republicans siding with the majority and five Democrats voting against the bill.
The act includes a package of ag-related legislation, including the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act and the Butcher Block Act, focused on meat packing and cattle marketing; the PRECISE Act, aimed at access to precision agriculture technology, legislation to support specialty and row crop farmers facing skyrocketing fertilizer prices, and the Strengthening the Agriculture and Food Supply Chain Act. In addition, it includes the Year-Round Fuel Choice Act to expand voluntary sales of E-15 gasoline and a bill to expand biofuel infrastructure funding.
Debate pitted the leaders of each party on the House Agriculture Committee against each other, with Chairman David Scott blaming his Republican colleagues who he said, “have chosen to politicize this moment and tarnish our bipartisan reputation.”
House Ag Minority Leader Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson led the opposition to the bill because “simply put, this bill does nothing to lower food and fuel costs.” Thompson and most other Republicans mainly objected to the meat packing and cattle marketing portions of the act. “If this were a serious exercise, my Democrat colleagues would not have paired such an egregious example of legislative overreach with several other bipartisan, thoughtful bills,” he said. “It’s also not surprising the party of “defund the police” has also become the party of more cops for cows.”
Listen to Scott and Thompson’s opening floor remarks on the bill:
House Food and Fuel Costs Bill - Rep. David Scott 9:40
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) expressed strong disappointment in passage of the bill which incorporates the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act.
“Rising food, fuel, and fertilizer prices are hurting cattle producers around the country, but Congress is relentlessly focused on political posturing through this special investigator bill,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “NCBA strongly supports fairness and transparency in the market, but Congress is wasting time with legislative proposals in search of a problem while ignoring real issues impacting cattle producers.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.