The U.S. Senate today failed to end debate on the 2007 Farm Bill and lawmakers adjourned for a two-week recess. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev.), attempted to invoke cloture – cut off debate and proceed to consideration of the bill – but failed by a 55-42 vote. It takes 60 votes to approve a cloture motion. It is unclear what course of action the Senate will take on the legislation when it returns Dec. 3. The controversy on the bill was the number of amendments that could be offered.
There were reports that as many as 100 amendments had been requested. The National Pork Producers Council has been urging Senate lawmakers to oppose amendments that would hurt the competitiveness of the U.S. pork industry. Several provisions that would be detrimental to the pork industry may be offered including ones that would:
• Allow lawsuits for “unfair” practices, in which the aggrieved party would not need to prove he or she suffered a competitive injury.
• Ban “formula-price” contracts (captive supply), which simply facilitate the transfer of hogs and reduce costs for buyers and sellers, and limit the number of hogs that can be covered by any one contract to only 30 pigs or one-sixth of a modern semi-trailer truckload.
• Create an Office of Special Counsel to investigate competition issues in the livestock industry, and establish U.S. Justice Department task forces that would develop federal regulations and guidelines related to all agricultural products.
• Ban the use in livestock of certain antibiotics.
• Prohibit Class “B” dealers from selling animals to research laboratories.
• Ban the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption.
In the meantime, Rep. Jerry Moran, (R-Kan.), introduced in the House legislation to extend the 2002 Farm Bill for one year.