Senate Passes Farm Bill
By Patty Lovera
Today the Senate passed the 2012 farm bill, by a vote of 64 to 35. Lots of the votes against the bill came from southern senators who don’t like changes made in the commodity crop programs in the bill, which shifted many crops more heavily into crop insurance instead of government commodity programs.
Overall, this version of the farm bill amounts to a missed opportunity to tackle the root problem in our food system: consolidation and corporate control. The leadership of the Senate did not allow important amendments on antitrust issues, like one that would have banned meatpacker ownership of livestock, from being considered.
The last two amendments we were paying particular attention to today both failed. The debate on the amendment by Senators Sanders and Boxer (S. Amdt. 2310) to allow states to require labeling of genetically engineered foods was long overdue. This amendment received 26 votes with 73 Senators voting against it. Obviously, there’s much more work to be done to ensure our right to know what we’re eating, but the fact that this amendment initiated a debate on the Senate floor is a solid step in the right direction.
And finally, common sense prevailed as Senator Toomey’s amendment that would exempt community water systems from a requirement to mail drinking water consumer confidence reports (S. Amdt. 2247) FAILED. Food & Water Watch opposed this amendment.
The next step in the process is for the House to work on their version of the farm bill. The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to begin work on the Farm Bill on July 11.