House Ag Committee OKs bills on Chesapeake Bay, veterinarians & price reporting

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, July 28 – In a show of bipartisan unity, including unity against government “over-regulation” threatening farmers and ranchers, the House Agriculture Committee approved three bills Wednesday in voice votes.

H.R. 5509, the Chesapeake Bay Restoration and Improvement Act, is a bipartisan bill designed to give farmers and ranchers in the Chesapeake Bay region additional tools to help them meet regulatory requirements imposed on them by the Environmental Protection Agency. Congressmen Tim Holden (D-PA) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chair and Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research, introduced the bill, which has the support of a wide range of agriculture organizations. The bill passed the Committee by a voice vote.

“Chesapeake Bay producers face some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the country, and this bill provides them with resources and certainty as they address environmental requirements and work to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in the region,” Holden said. “I'd like to thank Chairman Peterson and Ranking Member Lucas for acting on this bill to ensure that Chesapeake Bay conservation programs are implemented as efficiently as possible to help meet water quality goals while minimizing burdens on producers.”

“Instead of overregulation and intrusion into the lives and livelihoods of those who choose to make the Bay Watershed their home, the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act allows states and communities more flexibility in meeting water quality goals so that we can help restore and protect our natural resources including the Chesapeake Bay,” Goodlatte said.

Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) said that “This legislation will provide assistance for producers who would be the casualties of another over-reaching policy from the Obama administration's Executive Order and a power hungry EPA which advocates removing the decision making authority from the states.”

H.R. 3519, the Veterinary Services Investment Act, establishes a competitive grant program at USDA to support efforts to increase access to veterinary care in underserved areas. The bill passed the Committee by a voice vote.

“Right now, the United States is experiencing an alarming shortage of large animal veterinarians who are the first line of defense against animal disease and play an essential role in ensuring food safety,” Peterson said. “The bill's sponsor, Congressman Smith, and Subcommittee Chairmen Boswell and Scott have been real leaders on this issue, trying to find ways to encourage veterinarians to practice in underserved areas where their skills are badly needed.”

H.R. 5852, the Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2010, reauthorizes mandatory price reporting programs run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for five years. It also adds mandatory reporting for wholesale pork cuts and electronic reporting for dairy products. The bill passed the Committee by a voice vote.

“Mandatory price reporting programs ensures that producers have access to transparent, accurate and timely market information that helps them make the best decisions for their business,” Peterson said. “There is broad support from producer, packer and processor groups to reauthorize these programs.”

For National Pork Producers Council comments on the Price Reporting bill, go to:

To read the three bills approved by the Agriculture Committee Wednesday, go to:

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