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.
Source: NPPC