Senate Ag Committee Votes
Against Fair and Competitive Markets,
Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling

(November 14, 2001) - The Texas Farmers Union (TFU) today said it was extremely disappointed that the Senate Agriculture Committee failed to support a competition title in this year's farm bill. The measure, introduced by Committee Chairman Tom Harking, D-Iowa, would have provided better footing in markets for farmers and ranchers facing increasing levels of concentration and corporate control in the food and agriculture industries.

Farmers and ranchers know that open access and fair competition in agricultural markets are key components of a prospering agricultural economy. The competition title of the farm bill would have promoted fairness and transparency and prohibited deception in the marketing relationship between farmers and large processors. This vote leaves farmers and ranchers without important legal and bargaining rights in contracts.

"Farmers need protection from unfair and deceptive practices similar to the legal protections afforded consumers," Sims said. The title also would have provided important consumer information, establishing mandatory country-of-origin labeling of meats, fresh meats and vegetables and farm-raised fish.

Members of the Agriculture Committee supporting the competition title include: Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Kent Conrad, D-ND., Tom Daschle, D-SD., Max Baucus, D-Mt., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Mark Dayton, D-Minn., and Paul Wellstone, D-Minn.

Members voting against the fair and open competition measure include: Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Craig Thomas, R-Wy., Jesse Helms, R-NC., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., Zell Miller, D-Ga., Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., Wayne Allard, R-Colo., Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., and Mike Crapo, R-Ind.

"We hope that farmers and ranchers will contact their Senators and urge them to restore the competition title when the legislation is considered by the full Senate," Sims said.

Texas Farmers Union, P.O. Box 738, Sweetwater, Tx 79556