The U.S. House and Senate both have key agriculture legislation on the docket to start in the month of June.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee will take up its fiscal year 2013 funding for agriculture programs on Wednesday, June 6. Key items for sheep producers include funding of livestock protection and scrapie eradication under the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The Senate is expected to file a motion to proceed next week on S. 3240-The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act (aka: Farm Bill).
The likely timeframe to start voting on procedural votes is Thursday, June 7. A cloture vote will be required to limit debate and is expected either Thursday, June 6, or Friday, June 7. Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture. The American Sheep Industry Association's (ASI) Legislative Action Council is encouraging sheep producers to ask their senators to support the Farm Bill and vote for cloture.
After the passage of this very important cloture vote, 30 hours is required before the bill may be amended, which puts the beginning of the debate on Monday, June 11. It is our understanding that only two or three days will be allotted for the Farm Bill debate on the Senate floor. Therefore, any critical amendments and final passage votes will start on Monday evening going through Tuesday and possibly into Wednesday.
Legislative council chair, Bob Benson (Ind.), reminds sheep producers that ASI strongly supports the version approved by the Senate agriculture committee where "priorities are the reauthorization of the marketing loan for wool and reauthorization of the Livestock Indemnity and Livestock Forage programs, all of which are key risk management programs for sheep producers." The committee bill also provides a Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program to strengthen sheep business, infrastructure and resource development with $1.5 million in funds.
The Livestock Indemnity Program would provide a 65-percent value indemnification for sheep losses under the proposal, which is slightly less than its current value, but language has been included that would cover losses due to attacks if a species is federally introduced or regulated, including wolves. ASI has emphasized the need for the program to cover range-lambing events, the eligibility rules have been very difficult for producers to comply with in these first years of the indemnity program.