WASHINGTON, July 12 -- The National Farmers Union issued the following news release:
National Farmers Union (http://www.nfu.org/) (NFU) President Roger Johnson
issued the following statement after the successful passage of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) through the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture by a bipartisan 35-11 vote:
"NFU thanks the leadership of the House Agriculture Committee for its hard work in passing the FARRM Act out of committee. NFU is pleased that the committee included some protection for long-term price collapse, which is a critical part of any safety net.
"NFU is also pleased that the committee rejected amendments to alter the no-cost sugar program and remove the critical Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP) from the new dairy program. The sugar industry is important to our nation's economic health, generating $20 billion annually and creating 142,000 jobs. And although NFU is skeptical of the untested dairy
insurance program included in the Act, one thing that would certainly make the program wholly ineffective is allowing dairies to increase production unchecked. Eliminating the supply management provision would be disastrous and would lead to a repeat of the low prices the industry has seen in recent years.
"The House Agriculture Committee also did well to preserve funding levels for conservation programs, which a recent NFU poll found is a priority for farmers across the country. The additional provisions that encourage federal nutrition program beneficiaries to use their benefits to purchase local and regional food is also a positive step for local producers.
"Energy programs are a critical part of rural development, so NFU is disappointed that the energy title received no mandatory funding. Discretionary funds are awarded each year by appropriation and do not provide the secure multi-year funding necessary to promote renewable
"For more than a decade NFU has fought for Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), and we are deeply disappointed that the committee approved the amendment. This is an underhanded way to dismantle COOL behind closed doors and out of public view. Many in the leadership of the livestock industry seem intent on looking backward and ignoring consumer preferences. Consumers have a right to know from where their food comes, and Congress must not interfere with that right.
"NFU also continues to be concerned with the deep cuts to the nutrition title. During these economically difficult times, cutting $16 billion from such an important safety net for so many people does not make sense and will not be agreeable to the Senate.
"NFU is disheartened that the House Agriculture Committee voted to roll back progress made toward increasing competition and fairness in the livestock market. In the last 30 years, more than 500,000 beef cattle operations and nearly 600,000 hog producers have gone out of business. These livestock rules help level the playing field for independent producers and must be restored.
"I urge House leadership to allow floor consideration of FARRM as soon as possible and look forward to working with both chambers of Congress to complete this legislation by Sept. 30, when the current farm bill expires."
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