Sustainable agriculture and community food activists watched carefully on June 20 as the U.S. Senate voted on a series of amendments to its version of the 2012 Farm Bill. NSAC Policy Director Ferd Hoefner commented, “The bill reported by the Committee has been significantly improved these past two days. The Brown (Ohio) amendment provides critical funding for rural jobs and new farming opportunities. The Chambliss amendment brings common sense conservation protections to the farm safety net to protect the natural resources on which our food security depends. The Durbin-Coburn amendment begins the process of targeting taxpayer support for crop insurance, saving money by reducing subsidies for mega farms. The Merkley amendment starts to level the playing field for organic farmers with respect to crop insurance. The Grassley-Johnson amendment restores payment caps to the marketing loan program, completing the historic commodity payment limit reform in the underlying Senate bill. NSAC supported each of these amendments, and applauds the Senate for improving the bill with these important measures.”
A few amendments remain to be addressed today, and then a vote on the overall bill is expected on the Senate floor.
In the meantime, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma, reported that the House Agriculture Committee has delayed markup of the House version of the Farm Bill until after the July 4 Congressional recess. In the markup process, the Chair places a draft of a bill formally before the Committee, opening opportunity for potential amendments to be offered by individual Committee members. Representative Lucas explained that work is continuing on CBO scores and perfecting language for the draft bill. He also pointed out that it looks as though the agricultural appropriations bill will be on the floor next week and that it is a priority to have "all hands on deck" to protect against amendments.