The Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously passed legislation to renew mandatory price reporting. The legislation is identical to that passed by the House Agriculture Committee, which renews mandatory price reporting for beef, pork, lamb, and adds dairy products, for five years. The legislation modifies existing law by requiring Mandatory Reporting of Wholesale Pork (MRWP) cuts in order to expand transparency in the pork industry. It also requires USDA to establish within one year an electronic price reporting system for dairy products. The legislation is supported by American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Sheep Industry Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Farmers Union, National Pork Producers Council, National Meat Association and the United States Cattleman’s Association.

Livestock Workshop Plans Updated — The Department of Justice and USDA announced additional details regarding the Aug. 27 workshop at Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO, which will focus on competition in the livestock industry. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will address the opening session. There will be public testimony from those attending the workshop. Panels will feature producers, academics, processors, and other industry representatives. This is the fourth in a series of five workshops regarding agricultural competition issues. Anyone interested in attending the workshop is encouraged to pre-register at: www.conferences.colostate.edu/LiveStockWorkshop.

E. coli Traceability — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has introduced legislation that would require multiple tests during ground beef production for all Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. The legislation, “E. coli Traceability and Eradication Act,” will require facilities to test ground beef and beef trim multiple times throughout the manufacturing process by an independent, USDA-certified testing facility. A facility producing products that are unsafe for either three consecutive days or 10 days throughout a year will be listed as a safety offender with the USDA. Congresswoman DeLauro said, “Another important component of this bill is that when E. coli is detected at a facility, it would require USDA to establish a traceback procedure all the way back to the original source of the contamination. This will allow USDA to recall products more quickly and prevent additional illnesses during an outbreak. Our current food safety system is not doing its job; contaminated meat is still hitting the shelves and people are still getting sick. This legislation will establish higher standards for food safety and protect the public health.”

Summer Recess — The House of Representatives is in recess until after Labor Day. There are a number of issues for the House to consider when it returns in September, especially fiscal year 2011 appropriation bills. Now is a good time to visit with your congressmen as they travel their district about trade, renewable fuels, farm bill and the proposed GIPSA rule on livestock concentration.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.