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Ag secretary meets with farmers, ranchers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Proposed restrictions on processors' ability to control cattle and livestock supplies could have "disastrous" effects on the industry, packing plant operators told Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman Tuesday.
Veneman visited Kansas City's Agriculture Department office to announce $6.1 million in USDA grants and discuss proposed farm bill legislation.
Even as she spoke to farming groups and USDA employees, the Senate Tuesday upheld restrictions that bar packing companies from owning or having control of cattle, hogs and sheep within two weeks of their slaughter.
Packers say the restrictions would make it tough to guarantee a large enough supply of quality livestock and improve consistency.
The restrictions could be a major stumbling block when House and Senate negotiators write a final version of the farm bill, which will spend $73.5 billion over the next 10 years. The restrictions aren't part of the House's farm bill.
Robert Manly, president of Premium Standard Farms, said the legislation could have "disastrous" effects on the industry.
"I'm disappointed that there hasn't been more out of the White House leadership on this issue," Manly said.
She asked the producers whether they'd approached their Congressional delegation with their worries. Processors said they'd had success getting their views across to Sen. Kit Bond but not Sen. Jean Carnahan, who supported the restrictions after reviewing letters from both sides.
Veneman also announcedt he approval of $6.1 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture funds that will help economic development, increase airport security and expand electrical distribution. Rural Business Enterprise Grants were given to: The Stars and Stripes Museum/Library Association Inc., Bloomfield, Mo., $65,000; and the cities of Kohoka, $97,790; Thayer, $155,000; and Osage Beach, $50,000.