The Senate Agriculture Committee has completed its version of the 2007 Farm Bill, which means it still has to head to the full Senate, and then to conference committee where two very different versions will be hashed out. Senate Ag Chairman Tom Harkin, Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss headed up the task.

The bill protects the safety net for farmers when prices fall; creates a permanent disaster program; implements mandatory country of origin labeling for meats, fruits and vegetables; and allows interstate shipment of state-inspected meat.

 NFU President Tom Buis said.

Because the 2002 Farm Bill saved money, the 2007 bill had to be created with a reduced budget baseline. This created significant obstacles and wrangling among various parties.

The Senate farm bill is proposing a $5-billion permanent disaster assistance program.

Other aspects of the committee's bill include:

  • Competition title to address concentration in the marketplace;
  • Ban on packer ownership of livestock more than 14 days prior to slaughter;
  • $3.7 billion for conservation programs;
  • $4.2 billion increase in nutrition program spending;
  • $500 million to promote economic growth and jobs in rural America;
  • Restores the Milk Income Loss Contract program to original support levels;
  • Invests $1.3 billion in fuels from the farm;
  • Increases funding for specialty crop producers.

The House Agriculture Committee approved its farm bill in July. The Senate Agriculture Committee's bill now heads to the Senate floor, then to a Senate/House conference committee to work out the two bill’s differences and then to the President’s desk.