May 16, 2008
May 16, 2008 - On Wednesday, U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers voted 318-to-106 approving the conference report of the next Farm Bill. The U.S. Senate followed suit on Thursday with a vote of 81-to-15. Strong bi-partisan support that resulted in the wide-margin passage by both houses of Congress practically ensures enactment, including an override of a presidential veto, if needed.
At a news conference, the agriculture committee chairman, Rep. Collin C. Peterson (Minn.), said he expected the bill to reach the president by May 20 and, if needed, a veto override to be approved before Congress leaves for the Memorial Day recess. To override a veto, each chamber must call a new vote and pass the bill by a two-thirds majority.
"The sheep industry is pleased with the final version of the Farm Bill," commented Burdell Johnson (N.D.), president of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). "There are several programs that producers from across the country will be able to utilize in their operations."
Programs included in the $289 billion, five-year Farm Bill that impact the sheep industry include: Wool Loan Deficiency Payments (LDP)
--The Farm Bill provides for an increase in the Wool LDP base loan rate from $1 to $1.15 per pound on graded wool in 2010. The 2008 crop year and the 2009 crop year will remain at the $1 rate with payments in 2010 through 2012 seeing an increasing to $1.15. The non-graded rate is approved at the current 40 cent loan rate for the life of the Farm Bill. National Sheep Industry Improvement Center
--The language authorizes a new center and mandatory funding at the $1,000,000 level for fiscal year 2008. It further authorized appropriates of $10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2012. Interstate Movement of State Inspected Meat
--This provision is finally approved. ASI policy has long supported this provision, which allows sheep producers access to larger markets for lamb meat. National Research Support Project-7 (NRSP-7)
--The bill encourages the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to continue to support NRSP-7 and to work cooperatively with the Center for Veterinary Medicine of the Food and Drug Administration to facilitate the development and approval of drugs for minor species and minor uses for major species. Permanent Disaster Fund
--The permanent disaster assistance program will provide $3.8 billion in timely assistance to both crop and livestock producers for losses due to natural disasters. Farm and ranch families will now be able to receive timely disaster payments instead of waiting years for assistance. Grazing Conservations Reserve Programs (CRP) Acres
--Routine grazing or prescribed grazing for the control of invasive species has been approved provided appropriate vegetation management requirements are developed. Country-of-Origin-Labeling (COOL)
--The legislation includes a livestock title that puts mandatory COOL into effect on Sept. 30, 2008.
Payment Assistance for Fire-Payments may be issued to livestock producers who lease federal land but are unable to graze the land due to fire.
"ASI and state sheep associations have worked on this Farm Bill for three years and in spite of severe short funding this legislation, when compared to the Farm Bills of 1996 or 2002, actually has the widest offering of programs to all sheep producers," stated Peter Orwick, executive director for ASI. "Funding a program at even a million dollars required a lot of support in this Farm Bill as was evidenced with the amount of effort by lead sponsor Sen. Max Baucus of (Mont.)."
The Farm Bill conference report is available at www.agriculture.house.gov/inside/2007FarmBill.html
. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33