House and Senate Appropriations conferees completed action on the Fiscal Year 2006 Ag Appropriations Bill October 26, and votes on the final conference report were approved last week.
Included in the conference report of interest to cattlemen includes implementation of the current mandatory country-of-origin labeling program has been delayed for two years (until September 30, 2008) on all commodities except fish and seafood, which is already in place. A ban on funding for inspecting facilities that process horses has been delayed for 120 days. The language was also changed to allow these plants to operate on a "fee-for-service" basis which allows them to pay for USDA inspectors. This will prevent these plants from having to shut down and cut hundreds of jobs.
The following amendments were considered but not included in the final report language:
Â· An amendment to implement a statutory ban on downer animals from the food supply. (Downer cattle are already banned from the food supply as regulated by USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service.)
Â· An amendment to require that USDA develop a government-controlled animal ID movement database, reversing the Secretary's August 30 decision to support a private database.
Â· An amendment to exempt manure from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as EPA's Superfund.