Today, Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement regarding legislation introduced by Senator Hoeven (R-ND) and Senator Stabenow (D-MI) that ties repeal of country of origin labeling (COOL) to both the elimination of existing market driven programs and the establishment of a so-called voluntary country of origin (COOL) labeling program for beef, pork, and chicken. This new voluntary program would operate under similar rules as the program found to violate U.S. international trade rules.
Goodlatte Meets with Farm Groups to Discuss Budget
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Bob Goodlatte today issued the statement below following meetings this week with representatives of the farm industry to discuss the budget reconciliation process:
“The release of the Budget Resolution Conference Report, and the requirement that agriculture reduce spending by $173 million for FY 2006 and $3 billion through FY 2010, has generated considerable speculation with regard to how and where these savings will be achieved. Agriculture is willing to do its part to contribute to fiscal responsibility, and I am confident that we will meet our budgetary obligations under reconciliation.
As to the flurry of speculation about how and where agriculture will meet its obligation to achieve savings, let me emphasize that it is my intention to guide the Committee through reconciliation in a careful and deliberative manner. Under reconciliation instructions, the authorizing committees must submit legislation to the Budget Committees by September 16, 2005; the House Committee on Agriculture will certainly meet its obligations by that time.
In that regard, I will be calling together the interested parties and will seek their input throughout the reconciliation process. That being said, I intend to review every program and will begin the process without any preconceived determinations. Let me also emphasize the importance of maintaining the current farm bill policies so that the nation’s farmers and ranchers can make decisions with assurances that the policies of the 2002 Farm Bill will remain effectively intact throughout the duration of the act.
I see the Committee’s role in reconciliation as analogous to the manner in which the 2002 Farm Bill was written. By working together in an inclusive and bipartisan manner, weighing the diverse interests of production agriculture, trade, conservation, nutrition, research, and rural economic development, we were able to develop a farm bill that passed both Houses of Congress and secured a presidential signature. It is my intention to approach reconciliation in the same manner. Furthermore, I think the reconciliation process may prove to be a good indication of what we can expect to see during the drafting and deliberations of the next farm bill.”