Meat and Poultry Industry News / Legislative

Farm Bill compromise reached; meat industry groups vow to “actively oppose” it

January 28, 2014
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A new farm bill has been filed after House-Senate negotiators came to an agreement late Monday. The bill is scheduled to come to the House floor on Wednesday, and meat industry trade groups have vowed to “actively oppose” it, due to the fact that the bill did not resolve the issues of GIPSA funding and making country-of-origin labeling compliant to the World Trade Organization.

“Compromise is rare in Washington these days, but it’s what is needed to actually get things done,” said Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat who worked closely with Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Politico reports. “My reservations are outweighed by the need to provide long-term certainty for agriculture and nutrition programs. This process has been going on far too long; I urge my colleagues to support this bill and the President to quickly sign it into law.”

Feedstuffs reports that, in a letter to the four farm bill principals, the American Meat Institute, National Catttleman’s Beef Assn., National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, and the North American Meat Assn, said since a sensible resolution was not achieved for the GIPSA and MCOOL issues, "we will actively oppose final passage of the Farm Bill, if these issues are not addressed."

The letter detailed the groups were deeply disappointed the bill does not exclude language that was in the House-passed version of the bill on the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA), the Conaway-Costa amendment. 

If included, the Conaway-Costa amendment would have refocused the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regulation on the five specific areas of contraction, as Congress directed in the 2008 Farm Bill, the letter explained. As well as restoring Congressional intent, this language was included in four appropriations bill (including 2014) and signed by the President. 

Groups also faced disappointment that a WTO-compliant resolution to mandatory Country-of-Origin Labelling (COOL) was not reached, particularly in the face of retaliatory actions by the governments of Mexico and Canada. 

"This retaliation will be crippling to our industries and threaten the long-term relationship with two of our most important export markets," the letter stated. "COOL is a broken program that has only added costs to our industries without any measurable benefit for America’s livestock producers." They added they "offered many solutions and all were rejected."

Sources: Feedstuffs, Poitico

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