Let's Do This: Six Farm Bill Amendments You Should Probably Support
The Farm Bill is an enormous and very important piece of legislation that determines what farmers grow and, as a consequence, what Americans eat. You might not know it from listening to the news, but the bill is being debated in Congress right now.
This week, Senators rushed to file amendments to the 1,000-page draft legislation (officially the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012). More than 200 amendments have been filed as add-ons to the draft bill so far. Many have nothing to do with food, farming, jobs, or conservation and may be weeded out as the process unfolds. The six amendments below, however, are critically important to improving this legislation. They need broad voter support if we are to build a sensible food and farm bill in 2012.
Support Local Food
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has introduced an amendment that includes investments in local food infrastructure as well as supports for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. Without it, worthy programs like Value-Added Producer Grants, Rural Microentrepeneur Assistance Program, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program risk disappearing altogether. These are already proven programs that help family farms build local processing facilities and support training programs for the next generation of food producers.
Restore Food Stamp Funding
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment to restore the $4.49 billion proposed cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. This refunding of SNAP would be paid for by cutting to the enormous amount the federal government pays to insurance companies to provide crop insurance to farmers. This amendment will also increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for school children with an additional $500 million over 10 years for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
Limit Livestock Monopolies
Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Kent Conrad (D-S.D.) have sponsored an amendment that will reduce vertical integration of the livestock market by making it unlawful for a meatpacker to own, feed, or control livestock for more than 14 days prior to slaughter. This anti-monopoly amendment is intended to help independent and family growers compete in highly concentrated markets.
Make Crop Insurance Accessible to Organic Farmers
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) offered an amendment to remove barriers to make crop insurance more accessible to organic farmers.
Limit Subsidies for Really Rich Farms
Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have introduced an amendment that reduces the federal crop insurance premium support for farmers with Adjusted Gross Income of more than $750,000 to limit payments to the wealthiest operations.
Require Taxpayer-Supported Farms to Take Care of the Land
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced an amendment that requires conservation compliance for the purchase of federally subsidized crop insurance. This is an attempt to hold subsidy recipients ecologically and financially accountable for their land practices.
Without a public show of support (voters calling their senators) for these key improvements to the Senate Agriculture Committee’s proposed Farm Bill, the country won’t get the food and agriculture policy it needs and deserves.
Let's do this: Senators actually pay some attention to phone calls from constituents. You can get in touch with your Senators by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or looking up their direct lines here).
Then what? Once you reach a Senator's office, ask to speak to a staffer who works on agricultural issues or to leave a message. Let them know you are in support of amendments to the draft Farm Bill introduced by the specific Senators mentioned above. Support as many as you feel appropriate.
Why Hollywood Ought to Get Trashier The success of the studio behind the Sharknado franchise points to an elusive ingredient in movies today—fun.
Migration by Numbers The Most Diverse Cities in the World From Tokyo's modest 1.7% of foreign-born residents, to Dubai's whopping 87%, in this infographic we take a look at the dynamic landscape of city demographics around the world.
Should Society Fund Mindfulness? Putting taxpayer money toward meditation programs? It’s not as crazy as you might think.
Syrian Refugee Women Learn Self-Defense with Predictably Badass Results Two Arab-American women hope to empower Syrian women fleeing their home country’s conflict with physical training and emotional healing.
Achilles’ Password: Online Security’s Susceptible Straggler These new technologies promise to make your vulnerable passwords obsolete.
Guess Which Wealthy Country Can't Guarantee Access to a Basic Human Need? This week, Detroit's neediest had their water turned off. Here's what you can do about it.
If More Couples Smoked Weed, Would There Be Less Domestic Violence? Spouses who smoke weed are less likely to inflict physical, sexual, or psychological harm on their significant other.
Better Living Through Science: Women in STEM A look at pioneering women in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
How You Type Says a Ton About Your Emotional State This new computer program can see right through your poker face.
Let’s Do More. A Call-to Action by Gap CMO Seth Farbman Data shows that 24% of the 21 million Americans making minimum wage are working in retail, and 64% of those are women.
Meet the Self-Proclaimed President of Colombia’s Hottest Music Trend Champeta started as an outsider Afro-Colombian folk movement. Now it's taking over the country.
Cryptocurrency Regains its Reputation in Paradise Can a renowned tourist hub in Bali become a bitcoin wonderland?