Friday, June 01, 2007

Contract arbitration amendment moves forward in House

U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, won approval in the House Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee last week for an amendment that would limit the power of large agribusinesses to force arbitration in contract disputes. The amendment is similar to legislation introduced in the Senate by Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.
Boswell introduced, but later withdrew, two other amendments in the subcommittee. One of those amendments would have changed the way agricultural price reporting is handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to Boswell, this amendment will likely be introduced to the full House Agriculture Committee as farm bill legislation moves forward.
"Price reporting is very, very important," Boswell told the Iowa Independent. "If you talk to the USDA, you don't get a really strong feeling that they are reporting everything that they know. So I'd like to force that to happen."
For example, he said, farmers raising cattle currently can't find accurate and timely information on what is happening in the cattle markets. Mandatory price reporting would improve the ability of farmers to obtain accurate market information, he said.
"I want to be sure that we're ready to do it, and it will probably be introduced to the full Agriculture Committee," said Boswell.
His other withdrawn amendment would have limited the ability of processors to terminate contracts with farmers.
According to a Brownfield Network article last week, the subcommittee approved Boswell's arbitration amendment along a strict party-line vote of 8-6.

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