Monday, April 30, 2007

Important ag legislation to be introduced in U.S. House

Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell will soon introduce legislation that would strengthen federal regulations over agricultural markets and provide important new protections to commodity producers.

According to Boswell spokesperson Susan McEvoy, the Congressman's new legislation is very much like a Senate bill introduced in February by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin called the Competitive and Fair Agricultural Markets Act.

"We plan on introducing similar legislation, probably as soon as this week," said McEvoy.

Boswell chairs the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry in the U.S. House.

Harkin's Senate bill is designed to correct deficiencies in the United States Department of Agriculture's enforcement practices and create protections for commodity producers involved in production contracts.

Harkin is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and will lead the debate on the development of the new 2007 federal farm bill.

According to Harkin communications director Kate Cyrul, the act will serve as the basis for the development of a proposed "competition title" in the new farm bill.

One of the key provisions of the legislation would be to establish a special federal office that would investigate and prosecute violations of anti-competitive practices by meatpackers.

A report released by the USDA Inpector General last year "detailed widespread inaction, the blocking of anti-competitive investigations, and efforts to cover up the lack of action by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration," according to Harkin.

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