WASHINGTON, July 15, 2015 - The timing couldn’t be better for corn and soybean growers from across the country as they’ll use their planned summer legislative conferences in  Washington to push for support of Rep. Mike Pompeo’s Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 (H.R. 1599).

The bill, authored by Pompeo, R-Kan., and Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., cleared the House Agriculture Committee Tuesday morning on a voice vote.

In an interview with Agri-Pulse, American Soybean Association First Vice President Richard Wilkins said the bill is “top of the list right now” for his association. He said he wants to see the legislation “come to the floor before the August recess and get passage,” allowing the Senate to take up the measure before the end of the year.

“I’m always the optimist, that’s why I chose to be a farmer,” Wilkens said with a smile. “I think the closer we get to House passage, the closer we will be to gaining more support in the Senate.”

ASA Chairman Ray Gaesser told Agri-Pulse that members would be speaking with lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill but would be focusing their energy on House members. “We can’t have 100 different food labels, we just can’t,” Gaesser said.

Jon Doggett, National Corn Growers Association executive vice president of public policy, told Agri-Pulse that he was “glad to see the ag committee get the bill done,” but there is still “a lot of work to be done (in the Senate).” Doggett said NCGA members will be working to gain support for the bill in the House, but will focus their efforts in the Senate on making sure the bill has backing on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Both Gaesser and Wilkens also said ASA members will also be working for a strong Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement for agriculture now that, as Wilkens put it, “fortunately, we don’t have to ask for (Trade Promotion Authority).” They said ASA members will also be expressing their unhappiness with the administration’s regulatory efforts, specifically the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

Doggett said NCGA usually tries to keep its efforts focused, “but we’ve got a lot of issues,” including protecting its position on the Renewable Fuel Standard. NCGA will be holding a rally on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to ramp up pressure on the EPA as the agency works to finalize Renewable Volume Obligations. Aside from trade, regulatory issues, labeling, and renewable fuel efforts, Doggett said NCGA members are also going to start talking about the Highway Bill and its importance to producers.


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