Senate Farm Bill 'Mixed Bag' For Pork Industry

US - There are a number of positive provisions for pork producers in the Farm Bill approved today by the Senate, but the measure also includes some that could have a negative impact on the competitiveness and profitability of the US pork industry, says the National Pork Producers Council.
calendar icon 18 December 2007
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The bill includes fixes to the Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling law, funds for pseudorabies and swine genome research and authorization for a national trichinae certification program, all of which NPPC supports and all of which it will urge be included in a final Farm Bill. NPPC also will recommend that a final bill include increases in investments in renewable energy, nutrition and conservation programs, which along with changes to the MCOOL law, were included in the House Farm Bill.

Members of the Senate and House agriculture committees are expected to meet in mid-January to reconcile differences in their chambers' respective Farm Bills.

Among the detrimental provisions included in the Senate Farm Bill are ones that would ban packer ownership of hogs, restrict marketing contracts and establish an Office of Special Counsel to investigate and prosecute livestock competition issues.

"The Senate Farm Bill is kind of a mixed bag for the US pork industry," said NPPC President Jill Appell, a pork producer from Altona, Ill. "When Senate and House lawmakers meet to craft a final Farm Bill, NPPC will work for a measure that doesn't include restrictions on producers and that protects the pork industry's competitiveness."

NPPC kept out of the Senate bill amendments that would have:

  • Created an Agriculture Competition Task Force with powers to investigate agricultural competition issues and to develop guidelines governing competition.
  • Required the Department of Justice - under guidelines developed by the competition task force - to challenge livestock mergers and acquisitions under a standard much more restrictive than antitrust reviews conducted of transactions involving any other industry.
  • Allowed a plaintiff to file a lawsuit alleging "unfair" competition without offering evidence that he or she suffered a competitive injury.
  • Prohibited packers from paying premiums for value-added livestock, such as "antibiotic-free," by eliminating "business justification" as a defense against lawsuits alleging unfair competition. The amendment was defeated on a 40-55 vote.

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