Back home pressure from pork producers prompted congressional lawmakers to make several changes in the fiscal 2006 agriculture appropriations bill that will benefit America's pork industry. The legislation was approved by the U.S. Senate and now goes to the president for his signature.
"Pork producers have scored significant victories in the agriculture appropriations bill that will allow them to focus on raising their hogs rather than on dealing with increased costs and more government regulations," says Don Buhl, president of the National Pork Producers Council.
Lawmakers included an amendment that will delay until Sept. 30, 2008, implementation of a mandatory country-of-origin labeling law. The statute was set to take effect Sept. 30, 2006. The law, which would require meat products to be labeled with the source livestock's place of birth and where it was raised and slaughtered, could increase farm-level pork production costs by more than $10 a head, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes and Steve Meyer, an economist with Paragon Economics Consulting.
Knocked out of the appropriations bill was an amendment that would have prohibited fatigued, or "downer," livestock from entering the food supply. Producers could have lost thousands of dollars simply because their animals became fatigued during the transportation or production processes. The amendment also would have denied federal funding to research facilities that buy animals from Class B dealers â€“ those that buy and resell animals.
The $17.1 billion appropriations bill, among other provisions, includes:
- $33 million to complete implementation of the premises identification system component of the National Animal Identification System.
- $58.8 million to complete the final phase of the modernization plan for the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa.
- $3 million for a national animal vaccine bank similar to a model on the human health side.
- $8.9 million for surveillance of foot-and-mouth disease and foreign animal diseases.
- $250,000 in start-up funding for the Collaboration for Animal Health and Food Safety, a joint pork industry-USDA program that looks at pre-harvest, on-farm food safety issues.