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AFIA addresses 2007 Farm Bill

Joel Newman, president of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) has sent a letter to the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, expressing his concern on a number of issues related to the 2007 Farm Bill.

Among the issues addressed in the letter are corporate competition, animal welfare, alternatives to corn-based ethanol, and a permanent disaster program.

Free-market competition
Legislation has been introduced to limit or end certain contract arrangements between companies and producers.

In addition to curtailing contracting, specifically packer ownership of livestock, bills have been introduced to specify what can be included in contracts.

AFIA asks the House Agriculture Committee (HAC) to support free-market competition and oppose any efforts to restrict farmers' rights to enter into private contracts with grain or meat processors.

Congress should not mandate the terms of a contract between private parties negotiated in good faith. The creation of a USDA special counsel to oversee mergers and acquisitions is unnecessary.

Leave out animal welfare title
AFIA opposes the inclusion of an animal welfare title in the Farm Bill as unnecessary and believes federal food purchasing already reflect animal welfare as an intrinsic part of US production.

Animal rights activists have asked both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to include a first-time "animal welfare" title. Items to be included are:

  • Federal food purchasing "welfare" standards;
  • A ban on stalls and stanchions;
  • A ban on all "downed" livestock for slaughter no matter the reason;
  • A ban on low-level antibiotic use on farms;
  • A transport regulation (all animals, all conveyances, all destinations);
  • A ban on packer ownership of livestock;
  • Spot market livestock purchasing requirements; and
  • Shift concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) programs to "incentive" programs to go organic/natural.

Alternatives to corn-based ethanol

In the food-feed-fuel debate AFIA supports farm-based fuel development, including research into feedstocks that will replace over time traditional feed ingredients used to produce farm-based fuels, including a focus on cellulosic ethanol production and the use of animal-based feedstocks to produce biodiesel.

At the same time, AFIA strongly supports adjustments to existing acreage conservation programs to ensure only truly environmentally fragile lands are idled, and farmers currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) would be allowed to opt out of the CRP without penalty.

Permanent disaster program
AFIA supports the creation of a permanent USDA disaster assistance program for farmers and ranchers, provided such system fully integrates or at least does not discriminate against the commercial feed industry, in the distribution of assistance to farmers and ranchers.

AFIA supports approaches to disaster assistance that provides payments to producers to offset losses and maintain commercial feed purchases.

AFIA questions the viability of using surplus commodities purchased by USDA as a component of any disaster assistance program and requests that this not be included in any permanent disaster program included in the Farm Bill.

Related websites: AFIA and Farm Bill 2007

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