This week U.S. Senate Ag Committee began discussions on the Farm Bill proposals that includes a livestock title. One provision would allow state-inspected meat plants to sell product across state lines. NCBA supports the language, which could help producers as well as local processing plants.

Changes to the existing country-of-origin labeling law are included in the livestock title. The changes reportedly are similar to those in the House version of the Farm Bill. Proposed language in both the Senate and House bills would reduce the record-keeping burden on producers. NCBA and KLA diligently worked to accomplish this change. The organizations also support a grandfather provision that would allow product from animals in the U.S. on or before January 1, 2008, to qualify for a U.S. origin label. This would permit animals already in commerce to clear the system before cattle origin documentation is required.

A packer ban on cattle ownership is not included. Amendments proposing a ban are expected. NCBA will oppose these amendments, which could limit marketing options for producers selling cattle.

There reportedly is language that would create a governing body for handling lawsuits brought within the Packers and Stockyards Act. This would essentially add another layer of bureaucracy by duplicating responsibilities already held within the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration. NCBA is opposed to this addition.

The livestock industry will be watching debate over these and many other proposals as Farm Bill hearings get underway. Those who would like to listen to the committee hearings can click here.