Farm Bill In Progress: Important Amendments You Need to Know About
By Patty Lovera
From the absurd (ending the federal food stamp program and taking on Canadian geese) – to the outright irrelevant (aid to Pakistan and protecting the Pentagon budget), amendments have flooded the Senate for consideration in the farm bill. Nearly 300 amendments have been introduced so far, and, currently, lawmakers are working to come up with an agreement on the number of amendments to allow. They’re expected to decide on Monday and the bill will be picked back up next week.
Food & Water Watch’s policy team has been diligently poring over the hundreds of pages of amendments and is working to let Senators know which ones put consumers and family farmers before the moneyed interests of Big Ag and Food. Most importantly, we need to ensure that imported products are subject to strong food safety regulations, livestock producers are protected from market manipulation, the nutrition safety net is preserved, and investments in local food systems, organic farming and a diverse seed supply are made.
Specifically, we oppose these two amendments:
- Senator McCain’s amendment (S. Amdt. 2199) that would repeal a provision from the 2008 Farm Bill that created a USDA inspection program for domestic and imported catfish. This is a simple provision to protect consumers from potentially dangerous fish imported from Asia where food safety standards are lax. Even U.S. catfish farmers are asking for more inspection.
- Senator Toomey’s amendment (S. Amdt. 2217) that would get rid of the Organic Certification Cost Share program, which is a huge help to farmers who want to grow certified organic crops and just a tiny fraction of the overall farm bill budget. It would amount to meager savings in the federal budget but would be a huge blow to organic farming.
And we support these nine:
- Senator Gillibrand’s amendment (S. Amdt. 2156) that would restore critical funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly know as food stamps.
- Senator Schumer’s amendment (S. Amdt. 2158) that would slow the import of untested, unregulated milk protein concentrates into the United States. Remember the Chinese Milk Scandal? We still don’t have protections in place to avoid another one.
- Senator Leahy’s amendment (S. Amdt. 2164) that would establish penalties for intentionally misbranded or adulterated food.
- Senator Grassley’s amendment (S. Amdt. 2170) that would prohibit meatpackers from owning livestock more than 14 days before slaughter. As we discussed earlier this week, this packer ban wound go a long way to restore fairness in the livestock markets and give farmers and ranchers a fair shake.
- Senator Tester’s amendment (S. Amdt. 2234) that would designate that 5 percent of annual funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) be used for conventional breeding focused on public cultivar and breed development. In English, this means funding for non-genetically engineered plants and animals, which is a very good thing.
- Senator Sanders’ amendments (S. Amdt. 2256 and 2310) that would allow states to adopt labeling requirements for genetically engineered foods, because we have a right to know if our food originated on a farm or in a lab.
- Senator Sanders’ amendment (S. Amdt. 2257) that would allow farmers of non-GE crops whose crops are contaminated with genetically engineered traits to bring civil suits against the biotechnology company that produced the genetically engineered crop.
- Senator Enzi’s amendment (S. Amdt. 2259) that would ensure that livestock delivery prices are transparent, fixed and competitive, benefiting farmers and consumers.
Here’s the list of Senators that are important for passing this amendment: CA-Feinstein, FL-Nelson, HI-both Senators, MA-Brown, ME-Collins, MN-Klobuchar, NE-Nelson, NH-Ayotte, PA-Casey, VA-Webb, WV-Manchin. If your senator is included on this list, or even if he/she isn’t, click here to give them a call and here to sign the petition telling them to stand up for consumers and family farmers.