WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2015 - With two days to spare, the House cleared legislation to extend grain inspection standards and livestock price reporting.
The House action sends the bipartisan bill (HR 2051) to the White House for President Obama’s expected signature. Laws authorizing the standards and price reporting expire Wednesday. The bill also would reauthorize the National Forest Foundation Act.
The bill “will provide certainty for farmers and ranchers and prevent devastating impacts on our nation’s meat industries and grain exporters,” said House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas.
The legislation would ensure that grain inspections could continue during a labor dispute, averting slowdowns that occurred in 2013 in Washington state.
The bill includes a key compromise sought by grain traders that would allow private inspections of grain when government inspectors are unavailable because of a labor disruption, but both the buyers and sellers would have to agree.
Pork producers also wanted lawmakers to use the bill to declare the price reporting system an emergency service, which would have ensured that the Agriculture Department would continue issuing the reports during a government shutdown. However, Senate Democrats wouldn't agree to the provision.
The bill would expand the information included in the reports for swine and lamb transactions. The bill would add a “negotiated-formula” price category that the National Pork Producers Council said would better reflect the total number of hogs negotiated each day regardless of how the prices are reached. Another provision would require that prices on pigs sold after 1:30 p.m. be included in the next morning's report.
“Producers rely on access to transparent, accurate and timely market information and (the bill) will provide that certainty,” said Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on House Agriculture. The Senate passed the bill last week and had to send it back to the House because of changes that had been made.