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RMFU Commends Senate Action on Farm Bill

Denver – Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) commended Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss and members for swiftly approving a 2007 farm bill that supports many issues that RMFU has advocated strongly. “We are especially proud of Colorado Senator Salazar’s leadership on this bill,” said RMFU President Kent Peppler, himself a Mead, Colo., farmer. “He listened to our concerns about rural economies, food security, and the family farm, and he championed our causes well.”

The bill includes a number of the priorities of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. It creates a permanent disaster relief program; protects the safety net for farmers when faced with price failures; ensures that mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) will be implemented for meats, fruits and vegetables; and, allows interstate shipment of state-inspected meat. “The committee listened and these measures benefit both the producer and the consumer,” RMFU Executive Director Leland Swenson said. “Good, safe and healthy food produced domestically at a fair price is a mainstay of our country.”

The 2007 farm bill’s inclusion of the $5 billion permanent disaster assistance program resonates with Rocky Mountain farmers and ranchers. It will provide a helping hand to producers struck by devastating weather conditions at the time of need, not three years after having suffered the losses.

National Farmers Union President Tom Buis provided key leadership in developing acceptable compromise agreements on two provisions that protect producers and consumers against some dangers of food monopoly: interstate shipment of meat and implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL). The bill levels the playing field by allowing small producers to ship their high quality products across state lines. Mandatory COOL, included in the 2002 farm bill, has faced repeated delays of implementation. The new language included in the 2007 legislation will put an end to those delays. Other highlights of the legislation supported by RMFU include: a livestock title that will reduce the growing trend of concentration in the marketplace; increased spending for nutrition programs; increased funding for specialty crops; $3.7 billion for conservation; $500 million to promote economic growth and jobs in rural America; and, a $1.3 billion investment in fuels from the farm and ranch.

“The 2002 farm bill expired last month. After swift consideration by the full Senate, the next big step will be to settle differences between the Senate and House, and then get the farm bill signed into law. Farmers and ranchers need to know what federal policies they will be operating under,” Peppler said.