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June 13th, 2012

Farm Bill In Progress: Important Amendments You Need to Know About

By Patty Lovera

Take action now for a Fair Farm Bill!

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.

6 Comments on Farm Bill In Progress: Important Amendments You Need to Know About

  1. deborah sauter says:

    p;ease support s.amendment 2259,2257,2256,2310,2234,2170,2156,2158 and 2164.thank you.

    • Gary says:

      Continue food share program. Working people and out of work people have low to no incomes and need public assistance. This is worse than ever now that corporate executives are firing Americans to hire low cost labor in foreign countries just to line their pocket with bonus money.

      Promote varied seed agriculture. What happens if the genetic corn is compromised by a natural fungus. The whole American crop will be bad. Diversity is agriculture seeds is important to keep food production viable.

  2. Rosemary Ward says:

    no to S. Amend. 2199, 2217; yes to S. Amend. 2156, 2158, 2164, 2170, 2234, 2256 and 2310, 2257, and 2259.

  3. Ward Pallotta says:

    I visited Sen. McCain’s website for his fax number to oppose the catfish amendment. His remarks before the Senate were printed there. I have to say he was hilarious while staying on point throughout. While not a fan of the Senator, he laid out his reasoning for the catfish amendment and has the support of some Dems in the Senate. I can’t support Food & Water on this one.

  4. John Comella says:

    Oppose amendments 2199 and 2217.

  5. Theododra Crawford says:

    These nine modest but crucial amendments serve the health and well being of American citizens and small farmers. To not support the following amendments (2156, 2158, 2164, 2170, 2234, 2256, 2257, 2259 and 2310) is repugnant to all who seek food justice. Lower the crop drought insurance offered to corporate farms to pay for these smaller budget items. Then go watch Ken Burns’ The Dust Bowl once again. Replacing lost farm acreage with fracking when small farms are lost is neither a healthy Agricultural policy or a sound jobs program.

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