Senate Passes Ag Bills

Congress Close to Reauthorizing Grain Standards Act, Livestock Price Reporting Bills

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
The Agriculture Reauthorizations Act of 2015 (H.R. 2051) was approved by unanimous consent on the Senate floor. It now goes back to the House, which has passed legislation that is somewhat different. (DTN file photo by Nick Scalise)

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- The Senate passed a single bill to reauthorize the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting Act, the U.S. Grain Standards Act and the National Forest Foundation Act, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said late Monday evening.

The bill, known as the Agriculture Reauthorizations Act of 2015 (H.R. 2051), was approved by unanimous consent on the Senate floor. It now goes back to the House, which has passed legislation that is somewhat different.

The Senate passage provides an opportunity to pass the bill before the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting Act and the U.S. Grain Standards Act expire on Sept. 30.

Among the provisions in the Grain Standards Act is language that would ensure grain inspections at export facilities will continue in the event of a disruption, such as the battle over inspections last year during a labor lockout at a grain terminal in the Pacific Northwest. The bill includes other language sought by grain exporters, including a more consistent rulemaking process, a new fee structure and a shorter time frame for reauthorization.

Senate Agriculture Committee aides have said that House Agriculture Committee leaders are in agreement with the Senate version, but House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, last week declined to comment on the Senate bill.

In what appeared to be a veiled reference to the reauthorization of child nutrition programs, including school meals, Roberts said, "I'm proud to lead a committee that gets things done in a timely manner."

"We reauthorized three bills in one day -- that's practically unheard of in Congress. This is not the last you'll hear from the Agriculture Committee this year. We have a number of legislative items to consider, and I believe we can also approve those in a bipartisan manner."

Ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., also emphasized the bipartisan nature of the committee.

"These important reauthorizations illustrate what can be accomplished when we put partisanship aside and focus on improving the wellbeing of our nation's farmers, foresters, and ranchers," Stabenow said.

"Included in this package are reforms that increase transparency in the livestock markets, maintain the integrity and boost the responsiveness of our existing federal grain inspection systems, and promote partnerships to revitalize the 193 million-acres in our national forest system," the spokeswoman said.

"I thank Chairman Roberts for his work on these issues and call on members of the House to pass this bill immediately."

(CC/AG)

Jerry Hagstrom