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Federal & State Legislative/Regulatory Review: Farm Bill, CERCLA, NAFTA

The first thirty days of the Kansas Legislative Session has included the introduction of numerous bills that may have an impact on Kansas cattle producers. In addition to legislative work, changes in administration have resulted in some further political considerations at the statehouse. With sixty more days of session left, a number of bills will be debated, with some passing and some failing. KCA will track the legislative process and keep our membership informed.

Kansas began February with a new Governor. Dr. Jeff Colyer assumed office on January 31, 2018 following the departure of Governor Sam Brownback to take the office of United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Colyer is also a 2018 candidate for Governor, among a field of 16 other candidates. The primary election includes 9 Republican candidates and 7 Democratic candidates. Colyer names his Lieutenant Governor as Tracy Mann, a Republican originally from Quinter, KS now residing in Salina.

Noxious weeds have been of discussion in the years past. Currently, legislative action is required to modify the state’s noxious weed list. A bill currently in the House of Representatives provides authority to the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate the statewide list. The Secretary could also provide an allowance for individual counties to identify additional noxious weeds. The bill is currently in the House Committee on Agriculture.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources had a hearing on a bill requiring hunting guides and outfitters to register with the department of wildlife, parks, and tourism. Landowners with 80 acres or more, located in the state of Kansas, and providing guide services or outfitter services in this state, shall be exempt from the registration.

On February 1, 2018, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals granted EPA’s motion to further stay issuance of the mandate until May 1, 2018. No reporting is required until the Court issues its order, or mandate, enforcing its decision to eliminate the reporting exemptions for farms on May 1, 2018. Due to a recent court decision, so+me farms (including ranches, livestock operations and/or animal operations) were soon to be required to report hazardous substance air releases from animal waste under CERCLA. A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate to help ease the pressures of CERCLA on producers.

The NAFTA renegotiations are still on the table for the Trump administration. The cattle and beef trade deficit has seen a substantial up-tick since the repeal of Country of Origin Labeling, and some agriculturalists indicate it necessary to strike a better deal with Canada and Mexico. Administration officials have argued against the termination and/or renegotiation of NAFTA. KCA supports keeping trade quotas and tariffs in trade negotiations.

The 2018 Farm Bill time line continues to slip as Congress takes on shutdown issues and immigration. Some political analysts question if we will see a Farm Bill completed in 2018. However, there is the possibility we will see action on the Farm Bill as early as mid-March.

KCA will continue to track Federal and State Legislation. Additional information on a Country of Origin Labeling bill introduced in the Statehouse can be seen on page 10.

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