It's against that backdrop that lawmakers are mulling the writing of a new farm bill. The House already has approved its draft ... and chairman Tom Harkin says he intends to have the Senate Agriculture Committee's version finished by the end of the year. But the White house, backed by several of the nation's largest commodity groups, has different ideas.
In a show of good faith, nine national producer groups are supporting the Administration's request, though the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union have yet to endorse the idea.
The attacks also have contributed to losses in an already beleaguered meat sector. Though sales were off before September 11, the attacks severely curtailed domestic purchases when travel and tourism fell-off dramatically. Combined with the drop in export sales due to the discovery of Mad Cow disease in Japan, producers have begun to feel the bite. Feedlots have responded by putting fewer cattle on feed in hopes of reducing the supply and tightening up the market.
In an attempt to further minimize losses, The National Cattleman's Beef Association is asking the government to increase its meat purchases in the near term.