After pulling the Farm Bill from floor consideration Thursday, it appears Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., may call the bill back up at some point next Tuesday and file a motion to cut off debate, known as cloture. If such a vote occurs, sources believe it will fail and the bill again will be pulled from the Senate floor. It likely would be brought back up for consideration after Congress returns from a two-week Thanksgiving recess in early December. At that time, say sources, an attempt likely will be made to reach some agreement on a list of amendments that would be debated and voted on.
NPPC has been urging Senate lawmakers to oppose amendments that would hurt the competitiveness of the U.S. pork industry. Several provisions that would be detrimental to the pork industry may be offered during Senate floor consideration of the Farm Bill, including those that would:
• Allow lawsuits for “unfair” practices, in which the aggrieved party would not need to prove he or she suffered a competitive injury.
• Ban “formula-price” contracts (captive supply), which simply facilitate the transfer of hogs and reduce costs for buyers and sellers, and limit the number of hogs that can be covered by any one contract to only 30 pigs or one-sixth of a modern semi-trailer truckload.
• Create an Office of Special Counsel to investigate competition issues in the livestock industry, and establish U.S. Justice Department task forces that would develop federal regulations and guidelines related to all agricultural products.
• Ban the use in livestock of certain antibiotics.
• Prohibit Class “B” dealers from selling animals to research laboratories.
• Ban the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption.
If an agreement can be reached on the number and types of amendments, it is hoped that a bill could be approved before Congress adjourns for the year, which could be as late as Dec. 21. That would mean a conference to reconcile the Senate- and House-passed bills would take place in the first quarter of next year and that a bill could be sent to the president prior to spring planting. The White House, however, has threatened to veto the current versions of the Farm Bill. Should the president veto the bill, it is likely that a one-year extension of the 2002 Farm Bill would be approved by Congress.