Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) announced the formation of the Chicken Caucus at the 59th annual conference of the National Chicken Council in Washington, D.C. on October 3. He told the group that he and Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) have formed the caucus, which will include Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) , John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), plus other Senators from both parties.
"We are creating a bipartisan chicken caucus," said Coons. "We should have more than a dozen senators, and we will work with House Chicken Caucus. We will work across the aisle and make sure we are working together on the things that will help the industry. This caucus is a way for us to show that we are listening. We need a strong and vibrant chicken industry for today and the future."
Coons will co-chair the caucus with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
Speaking during day three of the government shutdown, Coons said: "I am frustrated and embarrassed, and apologize for the shutdown of the government. It's the latest manifestation with our difficulties of working things out. I think everyone needs to hear message that we have to work across the aisle."
During questioning after his remarks, Coons said there are conversations taking place that could resolve the shutdown, but they will require negotiations and concessions from both sides. He predicted that the shutdown will continue for at least another week, while the situation is resolved.
On a more positive note, Coons said the United States needs a strong chicken industry, and he and other supporters of the industry in Congress are working on multiple factors that will keep the industry strong, including, infrastructure, immigration and the renewable fuels standard.
The government can help pressure for robust international trade, especially with developing countries in Africa, plus China, India and Russia, said Coons. He said the government has to continue to support and improve infrastructure, such as good railroads and harbors, to support the trade in poultry and agriculture. In addition, the industry needs meaningful immigration reform to ensure a stable work force. "We need a broad, bipartisan immigration reform bill," Coons said. On the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), Coons said the standard needs to exist to spur development of biofuels, but it needs to be adjusted to have less emphasis on corn as the raw material. "We need to engage in a series of reforms on RFS," said Coons. "This is a long-term problem."
Coons said Congress needs to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. "I'm frustrated the Farm Bill hasn't moved forward," said Coons. "We need to go to conference on the budget and Farm Bill. In agriculture, you have uncertainty built in. Congress doesn't need to add to that uncertainty."