The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture approved a new edition of the Farm Bill on April 18. The farm bill, HR 2, is required to authorize farm and food program support which expires this fall.
The committee wrote strong legislation for sheep producers with new authorization of funding for minor use minor species pharmaceutical development – a top ask of the American Sheep Industry Association. This program for pharmaceuticals development and labeling for American application is critical for minor species, such as sheep. ASI is pleased with this opportunity for annual funding under the U.S. Department of Agriculture in cooperation with FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine as the existing program, while successful, has exhausted funding and would not be able to continue.
The committee addresses a key trade issue for wool suit and fabric manufacturers in the United States with establishment of a textile trust. This provision to address a trade loophole under the North American Free Trade Agreement is key to wool manufacturing and an American customer base for United States wool growers. ASI is a key partner of the wool textile business and spurred creation of this successful provision in the years following NAFTA implementation.
This version of the Farm Bill increases funding in reauthorizing a competitive grant program to strengthen infrastructure in the lamb and wool businesses, which is another ask of ASI in formal testimony before the House agriculture leadership.
“Sheep producers appreciate the support of the committee for risk management and disaster assistance programs, as well as export market support, each category of which are used by sheep producers,” stated ASI president Mike Corn. “Including the specific sheep provisions mentioned, this is the strongest Farm Bill in recent memory. We shared our support with Chairman (Michael) Conaway to actively work for approval by the full U.S. House in the coming weeks.”
ASI’s Legislative Action Council met again this month to line up Farm Bill support. This was in addition to March meetings in Washington, D.C., with dozens of volunteer sheep industry leaders carrying the requests for basic risk management and trade support. New provisions for animal health, disease response and a vaccination bank adds to the reasons sheep producers are urged to ask their congressional representatives to vote for HR 2.
To learn more, listen to this week’s SheepCast at http://www.sheepusa.org/