USDA General Counsel Nominee Says Cattle Markets Issues Are Top Priority

USDA’s Office of General Counsel needs to work with other agencies within USDA and also “needs to be very connected, if you will, with DOJ during this process,” Hipp said. She added, “I’ve been hearing of these issues for as long as I’ve been an agricultural lawyer, and they seem to ebb and flow in terms of spikes of concern, but I believe I’m seeing a bi-partisan approach to this issue that I haven’t seen before.”

Hipp said the challenges with cattle markets “can be extremely difficult” and involve large volumes of economic analysis.

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, also brought up the price divergence issues in the cattle markets. “My phone is blowing up over this issue,” Marshall said, saying family and friends are calling him. Marshall said cow-calf producers, backgrounders and producers with small feedyards “only have one buyer show up and say ‘here’s the price, take it or leave it” and I’m very concerned about this.” Marshall also asked Hipp to committee to an immediate update on an investigation, and release complete findings.

Hipp responded, “I commit to you I will get on this as one of my very, very top priorities. My phone is blowing up as well.”

On a separate issue, Boozman, Marshall and Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, also made a point of asking Hipp whether she has a legal opinion on whether carbon is a commodity as a way to reiterated to USDA leaders that they remain opposed to USDA using the Commodity Credit Corp. to pay farmers for carbon sequestration. Hipp said she needs to dig deeper on the legal issues.

“What I will say is that a lot of these questions come up in the context of utilization of the CCC for carbon sequestering purposes and, I think that, you know the CCC has some very powerful authorities to actually sit up under and support our farmers and ranchers and has been used for years and years, in many ways to support Farm Bill programs and I look forward to digging deeper on this particular issue and getting back with you all on the committee as we work together,” Hipp said.

DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom reported Hipp will not receive a confirmation vote until after the Senate comes back from its Memorial Day recess.

Video of Hearing:…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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