Congress again voted and approved the final $289 billion 2008 Farm Bill. The long-delayed legislation passed in May was mistakenly sent to the While House without the trade title.
Consequently, the House and Senate have now re-approved the complete bill. As it stands, all titles, excluding the trade policy, became law on May 22 when Congress overrode President Bush’s veto. Another Presidential veto and successful override vote is anticipated to complete the 2008 Farm Bill, points out the National Pork Producers Council. The 2008 Farm Bill contains several NPPC-supported provisions that are beneficial to the U.S. pork industry, including ones
- Change the Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling law to include four new label categories for meat, including one to address Canadian feeder pigs by allowing flexibility in labeling so that producers and packers can reduce sorting costs. The law also was changed to ease recordkeeping for verifying an animal’s country of origin by allowing the use of existing records, such as normal business records, animal health papers and import or customs documents.
- Authorize a voluntary national trichinae certification program, which will certify that exported pork is trichinae-free thus further increasing export opportunities.
- Increase funds for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and make it easier for pork producers to qualify for the cost-share conservation program.
- Give producers the right to cancel production contracts within three days of signing.
- Allow producers, at the time of signing a contract, to opt out of using arbitration – and instead use the courts – to settle contract disputes.
- Increase funding for the export-promoting Market Access Program and for the Foreign Market Development program.
- Among detrimental provisions NPPC opposed and was able to keep out of the legislation were ones that would have:
- Banned packers from owning livestock.
- Established an Office of Special Counsel within the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate livestock competition matters, replacing the U.S. Department of Justice’s role in enforcing competition and antitrust matters.
- Eliminated as a defense against lawsuits over alleged unfair competition “justifiable business practice” for pork producers who make rational business decisions based on cost, quality and efficiency.
- Dictated onerous on-farm food animal handling and production practices.
The Farm Bill also lowers the ethanol blender’s credit from 51 cents per gallon to 45 cents and extends the import tariff on ethanol to Dec. 31, 2010, from Dec. 31, 2009.
Source: National Pork Producers Council