After a long and sometimes bitter debate, the House of Representatives and Senate conferees approved a six-year, $73.5 billion farm bill.

National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Dave Roper applauded conferees for upgrading the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) “that will help livestock producers of all sizes and types meet new federal, state and local environmental rules.”

Up to $11 billion has been approved over the next 10 years for EQIP. Government programs could cost more than $12 billion in the next decade in mandatory manure, water and air quality requirements, says NPPC.

The bill also provided for mandatory country-of-origin meat labeling, opposed by NPPC. Roper says its cost will unfairly fall on producers and could damage international trade. It exempts pork's biggest competitor, poultry.

The American Meat Institute (AMI) says the labeling provision will saddle the U.S. livestock, meat and supermarket industries with nearly $1 billion in annual costs and the Agriculture Department with $60 million in annual oversight costs.

Both NPPC and AMI commended legislators for deleting the Senate's proposed ban on packer ownership, feeding or control of livestock. Instead, congressional hearings on concentration will be held.