Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., have apparently reached agreement on provisions to incorporate into the panel’s 2007 Farm Bill. Included in the “chairman’s mark,” NPPC believes, are provisions that would:
• Make needed changes to the Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling law.
• Fund swine genome research.
• Create a National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
• Authorize a national trichinae certification program.
• Support initiatives to convert methane to energy.
• Maintain the Conservation Reserve Program at 39.2 million acres.
• Increase funding for the Comprehensive Stewardship Program.
• Reauthorize the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
• Establish that feral swine pose a threat to the domestic swine population.
• Increase funding for the export-promoting Market Access Program by $94 million.
• Make unlawful the unauthorized use of animal identification information
• Require the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a study of wholesale pork reporting under the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act.
• Establish an Office of Special Counsel for livestock competition issues.
• Allow the interstate shipment of state-inspected meat.
• Prohibit arbitration clauses in contracts between packers and producers.
• Require contractors to give 90 days’ notice for cancelling contracts with livestock growers. A contractor could only terminate a contract during the 90-day period for a producer’s “complete” failure to perform, if a producer abandoned the contract or if a producer were convicted of fraud or theft against the contractor.
• Expand the definition of an “association of producers” to bring more entities under the Agricultural Fair Practices Act.
Two other provisions that may be considered during committee deliberations would:
• Allow lawsuits for “unfair” practices, in which the aggrieved party would not need to prove he or she suffered a competitive injury.
• Ban packer ownership of hogs.
To see all the provisions in each title of the Senate’s 2007 Farm Bill, visit NPPC’s Web site at www.nppc.org.