Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Senate Farm Bill Update and Action

OrangeClouds115 writes a very similar farm bill digest to the one I was reluctantly gearing up for; now I don’t have to. (Mine wouldn't have had such a provocative title, though.)

We can be pleased that the Senate Agricultural Committee bill contains a pretty good livestock/competition title (read OC’s diary for more details), as well as some other victories for conservation and community-minded farmers and eaters. A few problems, however, to keep our eyes on:

The committee’s version raises EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) payment limits from $240,000 to $450,000 over 5 years. Payments in these kinds of giant chunks help large CAFOs build and manage manure lagoons while depleting funds that could otherwise be available to smaller farms.

The livestock title, though I’m really grateful that it contains so many provisions to help small producers compete against giant ones, is still missing Captive Supply Reform, which would “restore competition in the market for livestock contracts by requiring a fixed base price on contracts and marketing agreements [and] requiring trading of contracts in open, public markets to which all buyers and sellers have access.” Sen. Enzi (R-WY) is expected to offer an amendment re-introducing Captive Supply Reform.

Small livestock owners and small farm advocates are upset (as previously noted) by mentions of NAIS (National Animal ID System) in the committee’s bill. While the bill does not make NAIS mandatory (phew!), it still contains a provision (sec. 10305) that gives implicit approval and support to the “voluntary” USDA program. Section 10305 amends the Animal Health Protection Act to 1) define NAIS, and 2) exempt certain information collected under NAIS from the Freedom of Information Act.

The Farm Bill will probably go to the Senate floor next week (week of Nov. 5), so this is the time to ask your senators to:

  • support Sen. Enzi’s Captive Supply Reform amendment
  • strike sec. 10305, which brings NAIS one step closer to entrenched ubiquity.
  • oppose raising EQIP payment limits if there is an opportunity to do so.


Cornfed said...

It's good to see you're writing once again -- missed you. Really.

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