October 26, 2007
October 26, 2007 - The Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday unanimously approved its version of the next Farm Bill including, for the first time, a tax title and a permanent disaster program. The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) commends Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) for drafting a very positive Farm Bill for sheep producers.
Fran Boyd, ASI's Washington representative, commented, "This bill contains sheep programs in four separate titles to assist with sheep production and with the business of sheep."
Those programs include a provision allowing livestock grazing of invasive species on Conservation Reserve Program ground in the conservation title, an increase of the loan rate for wool to $1.20 in the commodity section, re-authorization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rural development sheep center that expired last fall and the tax titles inclusion of a permanent disaster program for livestock.
The tax title completed by Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (Mont.) also includes a new tax credit for companies to develop pharmaceutical products for U.S. sheep health.
"Senator Baucus' support of each Farm Bill provision involving sheep plus the pharmaceutical tax credit has been key," added Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. "An economic return for developing and labeling products for U.S. sheep is more difficult than in larger-production countries. Therefore, this credit ought to be a big plus for minor species drug development."
Orwick and Boyd mentioned the inclusion of interstate shipment of state inspected meat as another positive in the Senate version. While it is different than the House-passed bill of last summer, ASI has sought approval of this concept for more than ten years.
Mandatory country-of-origin-labeling for lamb was also strengthened in this bill.
Orwick mentioned the support of committee members Sens. Mike Crapo (Idaho), Ken Salazar (Colo.), John Thune (S.D.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) in helping to include sheep language in the committee version of the Farm Bill.
"The Farm Bill may get to the full Senate the last week of October where more debate will take place. Conference with the House could be done this calendar year and will be a considerable process to iron out a number of differences between the two bills," Boyd concluded in his review of the committee action.
Also included in the senate version was an amendment that would prohibit packers from owning livestock for more than 14 days before slaughter. Under the proposed amendment to the Packers and Stockyards Act, packers could not, "own or feed livestock directly, through a subsidiary, or through an arrangement that gives the packer operational, managerial or supervisory control over the livestock, or over the farming operation that produces the livestock."
The ASI board of directors does not have policy supporting this provision. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33