The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research started marking up provisions of the 2007 Farm Bill this week. The panel included in the conservation title of the Farm Bill extension of the Conservation Reserve Program until 2012 and granted the USDA Secretary authority to terminate at any time a contract that has been in effect for five years. It also allows modification of a CRP contract to facilitate the transition of land from a retiring landowner to a beginning farmer, allowing it to return to crop production.

It expanded the Environmental Quality Incentive Program to include energy conservation as a compatible goal with environmental quality. The 60 percent livestock production allocation for EQIP cost-share and incentive payments would be retained. The application process would be streamlined, and applications would be prioritized based on various factors, including overall cost effectiveness as well as the project's effectiveness and comprehensiveness in addressing designated resource concerns.

Other changes to EQIP include expanding activities for which a producer can receive an incentive payment. Technical services from approved third-party providers. Energy-efficiency improvements and implementation of renewable-energy systems such as manure digesters and lagoon covers would be eligible. Additionally, a water or air-quality permit would be considered equivalent to a plan of operations. In the research title, the subcommittee established several agriculture research institutes and initiatives and authorized funds for animal-health and disease research and nutrient-management research.

Now, looking specifically at the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry, its marked up provisions of interest to the pork industry included:

  • Lift the ban on the USDA Secretary from using a mandatory animal ID system to verify mandatory country-of-origin labeling.
  • Add “Sense of the Congress” language on the importance to states of the pseudorabies program and its coverage under the Animal Health Protection Act.
  • Prohibit states and localities from passing laws to ban animal- or biotech-derived products. The provision is in response to efforts to ban such products as foie gras.

The subcommittee approved two amendments that would:

  • Fund $12 million for veal-industry losses in 2004.
  • Prohibit mandatory arbitration in production contract disputes. An exception would be made if both parties agree, in writing, to arbitration after a dispute arises.

 Source: National Pork Board