Action | May 21, 2013

Farm Bill ALERT: Tell Senators to Put Family Farmers First and Kick Corporate Power to the Curb!

AliciaWell fair readers, we told you we’d alert you when a good opportunity to engage in the 2013 Farm Bill arrives. Farm Aid fans and family farmer supporters: your time has come!

The Farm Bill is a big deal: it has the power to level the playing field for family farmers, deliver good food to eaters, support healthy local food systems, protect the environment, and much more. But in order to accomplish those things, Congress needs to make a lot of fixes.

It’s time to tell your Senators to fix the Farm Bill.

This week, the entire Senate is voting on key amendments to the Farm Bill. We checked in with our partners in Washington D.C., and we’re excited to see some critical amendments proposed by Senators that will make farm policy work better for family farmer agriculture and all of us eaters.

But we need YOU to raise your voices in support of these amendments. We need a Farm Bill that supports family farmers and a fair food system. One that kicks corporate giants to the curb. One that delivers good food and safeguards the public from wasteful spending and short-sighted policies.

Call your Senators NOW and tell them to support a fixed Farm Bill:

  1. You can find the contact information for your Senators here or call the U.S. Senate switchboard (202) 224-3121 to be connected to your Senators’ offices.
  2. Ask for the staffer that works on agriculture issues.
  3. Tell them to vote for the following amendments that support family farmers and a fair food system. Below, we’ve outlined a suggested message for when you call your Senators:

Dear Senator _____:

As you work on the Farm Bill, I urge you to take critical steps to ensure that our farm policy works for family farmers, consumers and the environment.

Specifically, I urge you to support these amendments that protect family farmers from corporate abuses by the largest meatpackers, poultry companies and other agribusinesses:

— Support Senator Rockefeller’s (D-WV) amendment to prohibit companies from retaliating against farmers that speak out about unfair treatment;

— Support Senator Grassley’s (R-IA) amendment (#969) to create a USDA special counsel to monitor consolidation and strengthen antitrust enforcement in the farm and food sector;

— Support Senator Tester’s (D-MT) amendment requiring the USDA to issue annual reports on concentration in the food and agribusiness industries.

In addition, I urge you to support the following amendments to ensure safe food and proper regulation of genetically engineered food products.

— Support Senator Begich’s (D-AK) amendment (#934) to ban the sale of genetically engineered salmon. The Food and Drug Administration is considering approving this controversial, untested product without labeling.

— Support Senator Merkeley’s (D-OR) amendment (#978) to repeal the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” a provision in the 2013 continuing resolution that removed judicial oversight of genetically engineered crops

— Support Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Feinstein’s (D-CA) amendment to support research on the use of antibiotics for livestock animals.

— Support Senator Tester’s (D-MT) amendment (#972) to support public classical plant breeding so farmers have access to the seeds and breeds they need to be successful.

I urge you to support the following amendments to ensure fairness, diversity, opportunity and transparency in farm policy:

— Support Senators Casey (D-PA), Harkin (D-IA) and Johanns’ (R-NE) amendment, which creates microloans for beginning farmers and ranchers and military veteran farmers and ranchers.

— Support the Brown-Gillibrand-Cowan-Heinrich-Reed-Schatz amendment (#1088) to support several programs that will develop a more resilient food system, including the Value Added Producer Grants, Business & Industry Loans, Senior Farmers Markets Nutrition Program, Community Food Projects, Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program.

— Support Senator Udall’s (D-NM) amendment to increase funding for the 2501 program that supports socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

— Support Senators Shaheen (D-NH) and Toomey’s (R-PA) amendment (#926) to limit crop insurance payments to $50,000 annually to those who are actively engaged in farming.

— Support Senators Begich (D-AK) and Flake’s (D-AZ) amendment (#936) to ensure data transparency in crop insurance payments.

— Support Senators Leahy (D-VT), Cowan (D-MA) and Collins’ (R-ME) amendment to remove the unfair EQIP payment limit on organic farmers.

— Support Wyden-McConnell-Merkley-Paul amendment # 952 to legalize hemp production in the United States.

Finally, I urge you to oppose the following amendment which restricts consumer choice:

— Oppose Senator Johanns’s (R-NE) amendment to repeal country-of-origin labeling for meat and poultry products, which the public overwhelmingly supports.

Thanks for making the call to fix the Farm Bill, folks!

We’ll keep you posted on additional opportunities to engage. It’s a fast-moving, quickly changing landscape in Washington D.C. right now. We expect that the House of Representatives will take up the Farm Bill in late June, so there will be more important opportunities in the coming weeks.

To get a sense of how things will roll out for the 2013 Farm Bill, check out this nifty graphic from our partner, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

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