Schafer Editorial to Pennsylvania Deer Farmers Association

Our annual Washington, DC NADeFA Fly-In was bumped ahead again this year. With Congress actually producing, for a change and working to pass a budget, the cycle has been moved up in recent years.

I would like to thank the Pennsylvania Deer Farmers Association for sponsoring Glenn Dice and Jarrid Barry to make their annual trek. This is the second time for Jarrid, but Glenn is an old pro, and has never missed a trip.
With our funding request already outlined in previous budgets these trips are becoming less stressful and more of a maintenance session. Our asks were simple, "please keep supporting the Ag Food and Research Initiative (AFRI) in the USDA Budget", as we outlined EHD and CWD research as priorities under AFRI, in the past Farm Bill. This program was funded at $300 million in the last Presidents budget, and is available under a competitive grant process for colleges and researchers to apply for precious research dollars.

Our second appeal is to maintain the $3 million for the Cervid Health line in the Fiscal Year 2016 USDA-APHIS budget. Again, we worked hard in the last few lobbying trips to secure and separate out funding specifically for cervids from the small ruminate, equine and cervid commodity group. Now that we have it teased out, maintaining the $3 million level is a whole lot easier than trying to get a "new ask". We have had discussions about increasing this level, but in the grand scheme of things decided it would be best to drive additional funding toward the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) side of USDA to increase the amount of CWD and EHD research as opposed to having additional funds ate up by the administration of regulatory programs.

The last issue we always draw attention to, is reform of the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act was a great document 100 years ago and was important in protecting and restoring our wildlife populations, but is a little out of date and needs to be reformed as it is far overreaching of many industries. To be clear, we are not trying to change any laws or get out from under any regulations, we are just looking for parity with other livestock industries as to how their laws are applied.

The annual Washington DC industry fly-in is as important now as it was the first trip taken to the Hill more than a decade ago. We have had many accomplishments such as adding cervids to the disasters program, which brought more than $1.3 million dollars for EHD losses to our producers across this country. Restoration of the CWD indemnity funds for positive herds and trace out animals is another important safety net to protect our family farms. Lastly, drawing awareness to our research needs and also backing them up with the necessary funding is our long term solution to protecting and growing our industry into the future!

Shawn Schafer, Executive Director