U.S. Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson was added to the Pennsylvania Livestock Hall of Fame on Thursday in honor of his service to Pennsylvania farmers.
Thompson, a Bellefonte Republican, is the vice-chairman of the House Ag Committee and chairman of the nutrition subcommittee.
The Pennsylvania Livestock Association presented the award during the Keystone International Livestock Exposition’s opening ceremonies.
Thompson, who has served in Washington since 2009, is not a farmer but has a tradition of dairy farming on both sides of his family.
He said he likes to serve farmers because he likes to eat, but he’s also concerned about the health of the rural economy, which has struggled over the past five years even as the overall economy has boomed.
“What we all want is for our kids’ lives is (to be) better than what we had, and that’s having a successful, robust economy,” Thompson said.
His interest in animal agriculture includes support for a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank, which could be a godsend if there’s an outbreak in the U.S.
And he said farmers need access to large-animal veterinarians — not always a given in rural areas like his district in north-central Pennsylvania.
Thompson and Democrat Matt Cartwright are the only two Pennsylvanians on the House Veterinary Medicine Caucus.
Thompson is also keen for farmers to have export markets for their products, so he welcomed the trade agreement the U.S. recently reached with Canada and Mexico.
As part of the deal, Canada will scrap a pricing class for certain milk proteins that pushed out U.S. exports and contributed to a milk surplus in the states.
The agreement will also ease the movement of cattle across borders.
Beef cattle may be born in the U.S., move to Canada for raising, go back across the border for finishing and processing, and ship to another country for sale.
“The ability to have open flow for livestock is probably more important than any other ag commodity I know,” Thompson said.
The new deal “provides a great template” for the other trade deals the Trump administration continues to work on with the European Union, Pacific Rim countries and China, he said.
Thompson is the only Pennsylvania lawmaker on the House-Senate conference committee working on a compromise Farm Bill.
He’s been frustrated by the pace of the reconciliation process, which didn’t start promptly after both chambers had passed a bill and hasn’t finished even though the 2014 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30.
The 2014 Farm Bill was passed two years late, which necessitated an extension of the previous version.
This time, “there’s not really an appetite for an extension,” he said. “We need to get the provisions of the new Farm Bill done and across the finish line.”
Thompson said he recognizes voters’ frustration with Washington’s much-publicized divisiveness, but work that doesn’t grab the headlines is still going on, and it can benefit rural people.
Farmers are their own best advocates for policies that affect their livelihoods, and they should contact their representative with their concerns, Thompson said.
As a legislator, “you want to make sure you are managing the outcomes and avoiding the unintended consequences,” he said.