PDF _ RL33958 - Animal Agriculture: 2007 Farm Bill Issues
1-Jul-2008; Geoffrey S. Becker and Renée Johnson; 34 p.

Update: Previous release dates:
April 11, 2007

Abstract: With a few exceptions (such as milk), the products of animal agriculture are not eligible for the price and income supports that Congress historically has written into farm bills for major row crops such as grains, cotton, and oilseeds. However, the meat and poultry industries do look to the federal government for leadership and support in promoting their exports, resolving trade disputes, and reassuring markets that their products are safe, of high quality, and disease-free. Farm bills can contain policy guidance and resources to help achieve these objectives.

Animal producers closely follow the development of farm bills because of their potential impact on production and marketing costs. For example, policies promoting crop-based alternative fuels like ethanol already have contributed to higher prices for corn and soybeans, both important animal feedstuffs. Where additional biofuels policy incentives were being considered for inclusion in a new farm bill, cattle, hog, and poultry producers urged restraint and/or encouraged more use of nonfeed crops like grasses and field wastes. Other farm bill issues of interest included proposals from some farmer-rancher coalitions to address perceived anti-competitive market behavior by large meat and poultry processing companies; and proposed changes in food safety laws.

A number of animal-related provisions, some potentially quite significant for producers and agribusinesses, were debated during Congress’s deliberations on a 2007-2008 farm bill. Several of these proposals advanced to be included in the final version of the farm bill (P.L. 110-246) that became law in June 2008. It contains a new title on Livestock (Title XI) with provisions affecting how USDA is to regulate livestock and poultry markets — but lacking much of the extensive language that had been in the Senate-passed version of the bill. For example, conferees omitted a Senate provision that would have prohibited large meat packers from owning, feeding, or controlling livestock except within 14 days of slaughter.

Other livestock title provisions in the final version include permitting some state-inspected meat and poultry products to enter interstate commerce, just like USDA-inspected products; bringing catfish under mandatory USDA inspection; and modifying the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law to ease compliance requirements affecting meats and other covered commodities. In the Miscellaneous title (Title XIV), Congress included amendments aimed at further protecting primarily companion animals, which are regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Title XV, containing the bill’s revenue and tax provisions, creates a new disaster assistance trust fund that could provide new assistance to livestock producers affected by weather disasters.

 [read report]

Topics: Agriculture, Legislative, Information

Start Over