Packers, Processors Attempt to Hold Farm Bill Hostage28 January 2014
US - National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued a statement in response to a letter from the meatpacking industry sent today to Congress. The letter calls for Congress to gut the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law. It also proposes to dismantle protections for producers under the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).
According to the NFU, finally, the letter threatens to oppose the farm bill unless its demands are met: "NFU strongly disagrees with this letter and supports the livestock provisions in the emerging farm bill, which are beneficial to family farmers and ranchers. The groups that signed the letter do not represent farmers and ranchers. They represent the vertically integrated packers, and they clearly do not have the interests of family farmers and ranchers in mind.
"The farm bill conference includes several strong positives for livestock. Permanent baseline funding for livestock programs is part of the bill, including nearly $5 billion in disaster funds. The Livestock Forage Program is also set to be improved in this farm bill, as are the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and various livestock health initiatives.
"It is especially outrageous that on COOL, the outcome these organizations seek was not the subject of a single hearing in either the Senate or the House; it was not even proposed as an amendment on the floor of either chamber, nor was it debated in either committee. And they want to do this despite the fact that more than 90 per cent of consumers want to know more about where their food comes from.
"I ask the conferees and all members of Congress to listen to the voices of family farmers, ranchers and consumers, and to support a conference committee report that makes improvements to livestock programs and stays strong on COOL and GIPSA. It is time to get this farm bill done."
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