After many delays and much wrangling, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2007 Farm Bill today.
"The Senate farm bill includes record investments in nutrition, conservation, renewable energy and specialty crop programs while maintaining a strong safety net for producers when prices fall," says Tom Buis, National Farmers Union president.
Among the items that the Senate bill includes is the creation of a standing disaster assistance program to aid producers affected by devastating weather conditions. "Farmers and ranchers across the country, unfortunately, are going to be affected by natural disasters. A permanent disaster program will provide the certainty they need when a disaster strikes," Buis said.
The bill includes provisions for interstate shipment of meat products and implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling.
It also includes a livestock competition title, including a ban on packer livestock ownership, establishment of an Office of Special Council and voluntary arbitration. Several livestock groups, including the National Pork Producers Council, fought against those provisions.
In the end, the Senate farm bill included many provisions not in the House version. That will mean much compromise will be needed between the House and Senate conference representatives, as they will need to work out the two bills' differences before a farm bill can be signed into law.
"The farm bill expired nearly three months ago and the winter wheat crop is already in the ground. Producers need certainty for the coming year. I urge the House and Senate to appoint conferees quickly and pass a conference report soon, so the bill will arrive at the President's desk early in 2008," Buis says.
Source: National Farmers Union