House Farm Bill conferees have offered their Senate counterparts "compromises" on country-of-origin labeling and the proposed ban packer livestock ownership currently in the Senate Farm Bill, reports the American Meat Institute.

The compromises, did fall short of stripping the two provisions from the working Farm Bill documents, say AMI officials.

The House conferees are suggesting a voluntary country-of-origin labeling program begin for produce, meat and fish through January 2005. After that date, the program would become mandatory. However, the USDA secretary at the time could override that action if, after conducting economic and trade impact studies, he/she determines that making country-of-origin labeling mandatory would be damaging to consumers, producers or international trade.

Two additional country-of-origin labeling amendments were made to the House's provision on Friday. Rep. Cal Dooley (D-Calif.) presented an amendment that would prohibit the USDA secretary from implementing any mandatory country-of-origin labeling for livestock or meat until it's determined that the program can be implemented without a mandatory animal identification system.

Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) offered an amendment to Dooley's proposal that would require the same provisions for wild fish.

Concerning the proposed ban on packer livestock ownership, the House conferees are suggesting that a Presidential Commission review and produce a report on the issue. The report would be completed by December 2004.

Once the House conferees presented their Farm Bill compromise proposal on Thursday, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) moved to accept the House's bill. However, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), indicated that he was not ready to decide and that he wanted to discuss package with his fellow Senate conferees.

Senate conferees have indicated they might respond to the House offer sometime on Friday (April 19).

AMI is supporting the House's Farm Bill compromise package.

American Meat Institute, The Meatingplace.com