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Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate voted today on a Farm Bill that is a landmark bill for agriculture producers in Wyoming, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who worked for years on several provisions included in the bill to help Wyoming.               

“I support provisions that were included in the Farm Bill that help livestock producers and come at no expense to the U.S. Treasury. This bill includes something I have been working on since I came to the Senate eleven years ago and that is language to implement mandatory country of origin labeling, often referred to as COOL. COOL provides consumers with important information about the source of food and allows our livestock producers, who produce the highest quality meats in the world, to remain competitive in a growing global market. No more excuses, no more foot dragging, the time is hot for COOL,” said Enzi.

The Senate passed H.R. 2419, the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, by a vote of 81-15. The House passed the bill yesterday by a vote of 318-106. The bill will now be sent to the President.

The Good

This is the first Farm Bill that contains a specific livestock title to promote competition and fairness in agricultural markets, according to Enzi.

“The livestock title also contains provisions that will improve the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act by making market information easily accessible online and will improve the enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act by requiring the USDA to report annually on its investigations into violations. All important provisions for livestock producers who simply wish to have a fair and competitive market for their animals,” said Enzi.

The bill also includes a provision that helps the nation’s investment in animal health programs by making brucellosis a high-priority research initiative in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and clarifications for the Animal Health and Disease Research Program that provides vital applied animal research to producers on the ground, according to Enzi.

“For conservation, this bill makes significant improvements to the incentives and financial assistance offered to land owners who use the Environmental Quality Incentives and Conservation Reserve programs. I am especially pleased to see that the CRP program offers additional assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers since we all know that one of the greatest challenges to the future of agriculture is attracting young people into the industry,” said Enzi.

A disaster trust fund is also included in the bill that would allow Wyoming producers payment for grazing losses due to drought and covers losses on federal grazing allotments. A newly created Livestock Indemnity Program in the bill would also cover up to 75 percent of the fair market value of animals lost to disasters. 

The Bad

Enzi said this conference report comes to the floor at a time when U.S. farm income is expected to reach an all-time high of $92.3 billion.

“There is nothing wrong with helping our farmers guarantee a safe and secure food supply, but that assistance does not deserve to go to farmers who fashion diamond studded coveralls and golden pitchforks.

“It is true that our nation’s producers are facing higher costs to fill their tanks, fertilize their fields, feed their livestock and pay for their health care. However, this farm bill does not go far enough to cut the subsidies handed out to the wealthiest of farmers. I supported and applauded the efforts of my colleagues when the Senate considered amendments to the Farm Bill in December to limit these payments. Family farms are the backbone of American agriculture and the farm safety net should only be extended to only those who are in the most need, not to those making nearly $750,000 a year. This Farm Bill balloons to nearly $300 billion because the conference report makes only modest cuts to the largest payments.

“It’s not just a financial travesty that these payoffs to agribusiness are in the bill, it’s a policy travesty because this farm bill does have some very good policy contained within its pages. Many of these provisions I’ve worked to pass for a long time, but like gophers in the garden, these payments to millionaires have ruined a good product,” said Enzi.