Chicken industry representatives swarmed over Capitol Hill this week, meeting with Congressmen and Senators to drive home the messages that the ethanol tax credit should be eliminated, the GIPSA rule withdrawn, and a trio of free trade agreements approved.

Reg. Burr (R-NC) with L. Butts and R. Johnson

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), meets with Lampkin Butts of Sanderson Farms and Robert Johnson of House of Raeford.

“We had a very good day on Capitol Hill, with many meetings between industry delegations and members of Congress,” said NCC President Mike Brown.  “There is no substitute for personal contact and having industry members present the facts directly to the members.”

Rep. Crawford with B. Leonard

Congressman Rick Crawford, (R-AR), with NCC Chairman Bernard Leonard of Tyson Foods.

Ethanol was at the top of the list of issues, with industry members urging Senators to support immediate repeal of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) as proposed by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).  The rule on contract production proposed by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) was also a major topic.  Industry leaders said USDA should withdraw the rule and start over with one that reflected the will of Congress as expressed by the 2008 Farm Bill.  They also urged members of both houses of Congress to approve the free trade agreements with Colombia, Korea, and Panama proposed by the Obama Administration.

Freshman Republican Congressman Rick Crawford of Arkansas spoke to a breakfast gathering of the industry members.  He said the ethanol program, with its federal subsidies, is akin to a “35-year-old baby that needs to learn to walk on its own.”  Crawford is a member of the House Agriculture Committee.