FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2015
Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
WASHINGTON (December 9, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson called on Congress to pass a clean funding bill and uphold its promise for regular order. Reports of an omnibus impasse have largely hinged on an estimated forty riders including agricultural provisions related to Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), biotech labeling and other farm bill provisions.
“Congress promised regular order would be restored to the federal legislating process, but legislating through a federal spending bill is not what regular order looks like,” said Johnson. “NFU strongly urges Congress to keep the farm bill and other legislation important to family farmers and ranchers intact when passing a bill to fund the federal government.”
Johnson noted that Congress’ unwillingness to consider a compromise bill earlier this year has directly resulted in the World Trade Organization (WTO) giving Canada and Mexico the authority to retaliate against the U.S. NFU is strongly opposed to a potential COOL rider in the omnibus bill.
“It seems congressional leadership has no interest in protecting important consumer food labeling, and instead appears to want to repeal COOL and the “product of the U.S.’ definition that went along with it,” said Johnson. “This is completely unacceptable. Without this definition in law, U.S. consumers will once again be deliberately deceived at the grocery store, and U.S. ranchers will be left without a meaningful option to distinguish their products in the marketplace.”
On the issue of biotech labeling of food products, Johnson urged Congress to move forward with bipartisan negotiations in 2016 as opposed to a last minute rider. “Members of Congress have started to craft a meaningful biotech framework that would have value for all stakeholders interested in this issue. These deliberations should be allowed to continue so that consensus can be reached on a nationwide program.”
Johnson noted that any efforts to make changes to the RFS would also be harmful to the rural economy. “Pushing through such a provision on an appropriations bill that must be passed to fund the entire federal government is not an acceptable way of legislating policy changes to a program that has strengthened the heartland.”
Johnson also warned lawmakers against including riders that could re-open the farm bill, including conservation compliance and payment limit provisions.
“Congress must avoid any language that jeopardizes the farm bill or seeks to amend other important laws on the books that benefit family agriculture.”
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.