Agriculture Reauthorization Bills Head to President’s Desk



by Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

The House gave final approval Monday to the HR 2051, the Agriculture Reauthorizations Act.

Grain will continue to be inspected and livestock prices will be reported, though some people are kicking their boots that the government would shut down price reporting if the government were shutdown.

The bill reauthorizes the U.S. Grain Standards Act, as well as Mandatory Livestock Price Reporting for livestock and the National Forest Foundation Act. The bill now heads to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

“We cleared the final hurdle today,” said Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan. “Reauthorizing three programs in one bipartisan bill is no small feat, but when our agriculture producers ask for certainty and transparency, that’s what they’ll get.”

The Grain Standards Act makes some changes in the law following West Coast port disputes in 2014 that led to USDA declining to inspect grain exports, causing delays for many shippers. If any such labor dispute occurs again, USDA officials will be required to notify Congress and potentially waive some inspection requirements if certain conditions are met.

Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, thanked his colleagues and cited the need for the legislation.

“These bipartisan bills will provide certainty for farmers and ranchers and prevent devastating impacts on our nation’s meat industries and grain exporters,” Conaway stated. “Furthermore, the reauthorization of the National Forest Foundation Act will provide funds to the foundation to assist in restoring and enhancing our national forests and grasslands.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also thanked Congress for approving Mandatory Livestock Price Reporting. “Failure to act would have left cattle producers nationwide without critical price information at a very significant time in the marketing year,” said Philip Ellis, NCBA's president and a Wyoming cattle producer.

NCBA then took the opportunity to criticize Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., for not allowing language in the Senate bill that would ensure price reporting continues during a government shutdown. The final bill doesn't have such language even though the House included that provision.

“Unfortunately for America’s cattle producers, Senator Stabenow did not feel this legislation warranted an ‘essential government service’ designation, which makes market transparency vulnerable to future government service interruptions,” Ellis stated. “Had the Senator acted in accord with the original provisions in the House bill, we could have been assured price information would not be subject to political whim.”

Maybe it's best not to let political whims happen in the first place.



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