Farm Bill Action
Senate Takes Up
Farm Bill Debate!
Last Thursday night, the Senate reached a compromise on amendments to the
Farm Bill. Under their deal, the Senate will debate up to 40 amendments
each political party is allowed to propose 20. Votes are not expected until
late Tuesday, though debate on amendments began Friday, and will continue
this week. See below for a report on what amendments were presented Friday.
Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) has said that he hopes to
finish the Farm Bill by the end of next week. Harkin says if the Senate
finishes the bill next week, it might be possible to move to conference
(where House and Senate members work out differences between the two bills)
before Christmas, but that it is more likely a conference report will be
completed in January.
Now is a critical
time to call
your Senators. While CFSC's top priorities of
increased mandatory funding Community Food Projects, flexibility for
geographic preference in school food purchases, and infrastructure for
local food systems are in the Senate bill, your legislators still need to
hear that these priorities are important to you. This way, if something
comes up that threatens these priorities, your Senators already know what
Please also call
your Senators to support amendments that will help small farmers, rural
development, nutrition and conservation!
Particularly important is the Dorgan-Grassley Payment Limits Amendment,
which will be the major floor amendment on the farm bill, and is expected
to be a close vote. The amendment would cap commodity payments at $250K,
close loopholes, and redirect the savings to nutrition (including Community
Food Projects), conservation, rural development and beginning and minority
your Senators, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Ask for the staff person who deals with Farm Bill issues, and don't forget
to say you're a constituent!
The Ball Has Begun
afternoon, Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Chambliss (R-GA) came
to the floor of the Senate to kick off the amendment process. For the
Democratics, Chairman Harkin presented the Dorgan-Grassley payment limit
reform and an amendment from Senator Brown (D-OH) that cuts federal crop
insurance expenditures. For the Republicans, Sen. Chambliss presented the
Lugar-Lautenberg alternative farm bill amendment, an amendment from Sen.
Cornyn (R-TX) to strike the $5 billion agricultural disaster fund,
and three amendments from Sen. Coburn (R-OK) - a ban on subsides to farmers
who do not receive at least two-thirds of their income from farming, a ban
to USDA funding for golf courses, casinos, and resorts, and a ban on
historic barn preservation funding during declared times of emergency
disasters. Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) then came to the floor and presented
her amendment that would impose more stringent limits on who is eligible to
receive subsidies. It would set an adjusted gross income limit at $750K for
full-time farmers and a $250K limit for part-time farmers, or those who get
less than 66% of their income from farming.
We will keep you
updated as debate moves forward this week.
Other News in
Healthy WIC Food package
Last week, the US
Department of Agriculture issued new regulations for the Women, Infant and
Childrens (WIC) nutrition program to provide more healthful and culturally
appropriate foods. New options include a range of fruits and vegetables,
low-fat milk and whole grains in not only bread, but in tortillas, rice and
other grains. USDA also included important related changes that ensure
clients have access to the full amounts of food theyre entitled to, though
implementing these improvements on the ground will still pose a significant
challenge in many communities with limited access to healthy foods. For
more information, click here.
Capitol Hill Briefing on
Healthy Food Access
Last Wednesday, CFSC joined Congressmen Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Bennie
Thompson (D-MS), the Northeast Midwest Institute, the National Urban
League, and Policy Link in calling on Congress to pass a Farm Bill that
addresses the lack of affordable and healthy food in the nations low-income
communities. Speakers Angela Glover Blackwell (PolicyLink), LaDonna Redmond
(Institute for Community Resources), Daniel Ross (Nuestras Raices), and Dr.
Gina Villani (the National Urban League) eloquently urged a large audience,
including many House staff members, to support a Farm Bill that includes
$10 million in annual funding for Community Food Projects, $7 million for
the Healthy Food Urban Enterprise Development program, a no-cost healthy
food priority in the Rural Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program,
and a Food Access Study.
Energy Bill Doesnt Pass in
On Thursday, the House passed the Energy Bill, H.R. 6, which includes a
requirement that utilities generate 15% of their electricity from renewable
sources, and would raise fuel efficiency to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
The bill came to the Senate on Friday, where it was brought to a cloture
vote to close debate and pass the bill. The cloture vote did not get enough
Republican support to reach the 60 votes it needed to pass. Its likely that
the Senate will try to modify the energy bill to attain more Republican
support and pass the bill. Some speculate that the renewable electricity
provision would likely be cut in a bipartisan Senate compromise.
Farm Policy, Dec 8th
Payment Limit Reform
Soon your Senators will cast a vote on whether to end million-dollar
payments to the nation's largest farms. Click here
to tell your Senators you want strict payment limits.
From the Center for Rural Affairs
Food Stamp Increases
Contact Senators and urge them to finish work on the
2007 Farm Bill (S. 2302) and pass a Farm Bill with the strongest possible
nutrition title. Specifically, urge support for
additional investments in the Food Stamp Program, including in the minimum
monthly benefit, in Food Stamp Program access, in asset and standard deduction
improvements, and in TEFAP. A toll-free
line to the U.S. Capitol (1-800-826-9624) has been made available by AARP
while the Senate Farm Bill is pending. For more information, click here.
From the Food Research and Action Center
The Biomass Energy Crop Transition Assistance
provision in the Senate Farm Bill Energy Title was designed to provide
incentives to farmers to grow bioenergy crops for cellulosic ethanol and
other renewable bioenergy in a sustainable manner. Restore the
Programs ability to help groups of farmers come together to begin to grow
biomass crops for energy, restore conservation measures removed from the
Senate bill, and target the Program to land where the establishment of
perennial bioenergy crops will result in improved conservation performance.
for more information to support the Harkin-Wyden amendment.
From the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Large meatpackers want to prevent family farmers and
ranchers from having access to a fair and competitive marketplace for their
livestock. Click here
to learn more and ask your Senators to support a strong livestock title.
From the Center for Rural Affairs
A Farm Bill that includes support for non-farm Rural
Development will work for all of rural America. Click here
to learn more and write to your Senators about rural micro-enterprise.
From the Center for Rural Affairs