WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congress passed an agriculture appropriations bill this week that includes funding that would benefit the cattle industry, such as disaster assistance, agriculture research and food safety initiatives, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

The president is expected to sign the measure.

"The most pressing thing for the NCBA was to get funding to help producers who are having a hard time because of the hand mother nature has dealt them this season," said George Hall, NCBA president from Mustang, Okla. "This year, we helped get more for livestock assistance than Congress has approved in past years."

After this year's severe drought and wildfire in areas throughout the country, lawmakers agreed to $490 million for livestock assistance. The cattle industry fought for the funds, which total about two and a half times more than what Congress has recently provided.

Besides livestock assistance, the bill includes $40 million for pasture recovery and $10 million for livestock indemnity payments. The bill includes funds that will assist producers in analyzing information available once USDA implements price reporting. The measure also provides $500,000 in funding to the National Research Council for an evaluation of food safety. The council will look at the role of food safety standards in the production and regulation of meat and poultry and will make a recommendation to the Secretary of Agriculture by March 1, 2001.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association