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House of Representatives Passes 2007 Farm Bill

by 5m Editor
31 July 2007, at 9:07am

US - The U.S House of Representatives late last week passed the 2007 Farm Bill, which sets U.S. agricultural policies for the next five years, by a vote of 231 to 191.

Lawmakers did not include a number of proposals opposed by AMI, including a ban on packer ownership of livestock, requirements that packers purchase a certain percentage of their livestock in the sport market, as well as its exclusion of legislative proposals that would have created so –called “fairness” provisions affecting livestock contracts.

Other provisions of the bill include:

Arbitration
The measure passed maintains the amendment passed by the House Agriculture Committee last week that will change the way arbitration clauses can be included in livestock contracts, but not prohibit their use.

Country-of-Origin Labeling
The action taken by the House also maintains the Committee approved language that amends the mandatory country-of-origin labeling provisions included in the 2002 Farm Bill. These new COL provisions include four new categories of labeling for meat: a U.S. label that “may” be applied to meat products derived from animals that are born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S.; a “mixed origin” label that could be applied to products that are derived from animals that are not exclusively born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S. (product “may” be labeled as Product of the U.S. and other countries where the products likely came from); a label for meat products derived from animals that were imported into the U.S. for immediate slaughter from Canada that might read “Product of Canada, processed in the U.S.;” and, a label for all covered meat commodities from foreign countries.

Labeling provisions for ground product included in the legislation stipulates that ground beef or pork or lamb may be labeled with a narrative list of countries from which the product was derived. Labels may include the phrase “may contain” followed by a list of applicable countries. Civil money penalties for violations have been lessened from $10,000 per violation to $1,000 and a provision prohibiting the Secretary of Agriculture from developing of a mandatory animal identification program to implement the country-of-origin labeling remains in the statute.

Energy
The legislation expands the energy title of the Farm Bill to include $2 billion in loan guarantees for biorefineries, with half going to loans of less than $100 million, and the remainder going for loans of up to $250 million. The legislation also provides through another mechanism loan guarantees for renewable electricity production facilities up to $25 million. Additionally, the program expanded the eligibility of renewable fuels and energy, with the limitation that co-processed renewable diesel is not eligible.

State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Products
The bill includes a provision that would allow interstate shipment of state-inspected meat and poultry products if they are inspected under a state system that is “identical” to the USDA inspection requirements. In addition to meeting all federal regulations relevant to the inspection of meat and poultry products, State programs would also need to follow all federal rules, directives, notices, and memoranda.

Market Access Program/Foreign Market Development
The bill authorizes a funding for MAP at the level of $225 million for each year over the five year life of the bill. This number represents an increase of $25 million per year over the final funding level of the 2002 Farm Bill. The FMD program is reauthorized at $34.5 annually, which maintains the authorization level it received in the 2002 Farm Bill. Industry recipients of these promotional dollars include the U.S. Meat Export Federation, The U.S.A. Poultry and Egg Export Council, and the U.S. Hides, Skin and Leather Association.

The Senate has not yet acted on its version of the Farm Bill.

5m Editor