It has been a quiet month from a lawmaker's standpoint as Congress has been on a month long recess. But next week, after Labor Day, the U.S. House and Senate once again tackle several legislative issues. And yes there are several matters with a direct and indirect impact on agriculture and rural entities that many will be keeping an eye out on. One of those people is R-C.A.L.F. U.S.A. President Leo McDonnell. He recently completed a week long visit in the Northwest, and was asked what issues will the cattle industry, specifically cow-calf producers such as him, be watching with interest.
MCDONNELL: We have what's called the death tax. That's something that we certainly want to keep our eye on. Most of us pay taxes all of our life. It seems funny that once they put you under the ground you have to pay taxes again. We work on such narrow margins in agriculture, its tough for, and especially with the land values, for our kids to follow us. And I think we all know that. And I think most communities want to maintain their rural bases because that next generation does create a lot of income.
Trade deals to be considered by Congress late in the year such as Andean Free Trade Agreement will also be on McDonnell's radar screen. Another matter that could come down to the wire is Congressional appropriations for agriculture. McDonnell expects the joint House-Senate conference committee to finish work on the appropriations some time in November. But if there is one bill that really has piqued the interest of McDonnell and his organization, and that again demonstrates the divisions among sectors of the beef industry such as the producers, packers, and marketers, it is one centered on mandatory Country of Origin labeling.
MCDONNELL: The House has introduced a deal to try to kill C.O.O.L. or delay it another year by the end of 2007 when we're into a new Farm Bill. Basically the job is try to kill it. And N.C.B.A. has partnered with A.M.I., the packers, and American Farm Bureau and hired a law firm out in D.C. to try to kill Country of Origin labeling. And why a contracting agent for a check-off that's involved in the marketing is fighting us on a marketing issue, I couldn't tell you. But that's going to be a key battle again this fall. And that's a billion dollar issue for producers especially when we have a flow of import and banned commodities coming into this country. We need to label it and be more truthful with the folks that buy our product.
What also remains to be seen is if Congress plans to reopen debate on the reopening of our border to Canadian live cattle, in lieu of the accidental shipping and rendering of a thirty one month old Canadian cow into the U.S. in violation of existing trade rules.