December 21, 2007
December 21, 2007 - The U.S. Senate approved its version of the next Farm Bill, which includes a number of provisions supportive of sheep producers. American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) President Burdell Johnson, a sheep producer from North Dakota, complimented the senators for approving programs designed to assist with sheep production and with the business of sheep in four separate titles of the Farm Bill.
"The Senate included an increase in the wool loan rate to $1.20 in the commodity section, re-authorization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) rural development sheep center that expired last fall and the first ever tax title of the bill, which incorporated the permanent disaster program for livestock," commented Johnson. "Programs also include a provision allowing livestock grazing of invasive species on Conservation Reserve Program ground in the conservation title."
Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.) led approval of the tax title that included a new tax credit for companies willing to develop pharmaceutical products for the health of U.S. sheep. Sheep health was further strengthened by the authorization of the Minor-Use Animal Drug Program (NRSP-7) spearheaded by Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.) to assist with research aimed at developing new health products.
Baucus was joined by Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho) in gaining approval of a research priority at USDA to conduct health research that includes infectious diseases of bighorn and domestic sheep under range conditions. Domestic sheep grazing has been seriously impacted by conflicts with bighorns despite the void of scientific findings on disease mechanisms.
"This provision is another key piece of the Senate version of the Farm Bill that sheep producers will strongly advocate as the House and Senate go to conference on the bill this winter," Johnson concluded. "We encourage the agriculture leaders in Congress to conference a final Farm Bill with these priorities to assist the nation's more than 69,000 sheep farmers and ranchers."
"The Senate also addressed stronger mandatory country of origin labeling for lamb as well as allowing the interstate shipment of state-inspected lamb, both supported by ASI for years," added Bill Sparrow, North Carolina sheep producer and co-chair of ASI's legislative council. "The industry is pleased with the adoption of the Senate Agriculture Committee's version of the Farm Bill and with the additions of sheep disease research and the authorization of NRSP-7 by Sens. Baucus, Crapo and Barrosso."