NFU: Senate Passes Farm Bill Good for Rural America
WASHINGTON (Dec. 14, 2007) – National Farmers Union hailed the farm bill passed by the Senate today as a significant step forward to benefit all Americans.
“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,” NFU President Tom Buis said. “A strong safety net is vital to a successful farm bill. Past experience has taught us that any farm bill will work during good price years but is really needed during times of low prices. The Senate farm bill will see farmers through the good and the bad.”
The Senate bill includes many of NFU’s top farm bill priorities such as 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.
NFU played a key role in reaching compromise agreements between groups representing both sides of two of the bill’s provisions – interstate shipment of meat and implementation of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL). “Small producers will be able to ship their high- quality products across state lines and finally, after repeated delays, consumers will know the origin of the food products they purchase,” Buis said.
The Senate-passed bill includes a livestock competition title, including a ban on packer ownership, establishment of an Office of Special Council and voluntary arbitration.
Buis commended the Senate for moving the farm bill forward in the legislative process. However, a House-Senate conference still needs to meet and 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 said.