We Have Work to Do!

Today the House of Representatives started the floor votes on the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (or the FARRM Act of 2013).  The Rules committee is meeting today to determine which amendments to consider “in order” and will allow for debate on the floor.  It is expected that their official list will come out sometime today or tomorrow.  Right now we do not know how many amendments will be considered “in order” but it is speculated that it will be a very short list.  The last vote on the FARRM Act of 2013 is scheduled on Thursday at 3pm. 

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition sent a letter to the Rules Committee pushing sustainable agriculture priorities.  As of now, we do know that amendment #63 Ribble (WI) that would provide $5million in mandatory funding for the Organic Data Initiative and the National Organic Program will not be included in the FARRM ACT of 2013.  The other amendments are still up for consideration.  These include:

#224 Lujan Grisham (NM) and Sewell (AL) - 2501 Amendment -The Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Rancher (also known as the 2501 Program) is a historic program that provides competitive grants to educational institutions, Extension, and community-based organizations to assist African-American, American-Indian, Asian-American and Latino farmers and ranchers in owning and operating farms and participating in USDA programs. The committee-passed bill expands program eligibility requirements to include veteran farmers and ranchers and funds this program at $10 million annually, about half of previous funding. The amendment would restore funding of $17 million annually in order to serve both the traditional and new producers now eligible for the program. (Originally Sen. Tom Udall's (D-NM) amendment #1055). 

#24 Hanna (NY), Pingree (ME), Kind (WI), and Petri (WI) - For Insurance Subsidies Amendment - This amendment would reduce the level of federal premium support for crop insurance participants with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) over $750,000 by 15 percentage points for all buy-up policies beyond catastrophic coverage.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates this amendment, which affects less than 1 percent of farmers, would save more than $1.2 billion dollars over ten years.  Furthermore, we support any amendment that would extend the premium reductions and waivers for supplied in crop insurance to beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.  All three groups are provided premium reductions in the NAP (Non Insured Disaster Assistance Program) in the Miscellaneous Title. (Originally Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) amendment #953)

#28 Fortenberry (NE) and Thompson (CA) - Conservation Compliance Amendment - Fortenberry is working with Mike Thompson, Democrat from California, to sponsor an amendment that is identical to the conservation compliance amendment in the Senate bill, re-linking highly erodible land and wetland requirements to receipt of crop insurance premium subsidies.  The language is not perfect, but it is much better than nothing and NSAC is supporting it.

#38 Kuster (NH) - Organic Initiative EQIP Amendment - This amendment eliminates the separate payment limit for farmers participating in the EQIP Organic Initiative so that all farmers are subject to the same payment limitations in EQIP.  (Originally Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) amendment #1093).

#93 Fortenberry (NE) - Payment Limit Reform Amendment - This amendment builds on our historic win in the Senate bill, which now includes the tightest per farm payment limit ever in the history of farm programs.  The Fortenberry amendment is an exact copy of the Senate provision.  All of the savings would go toward deficit reduction. Fortenberry is a Republican from Nebraska. There will very likely be a lead Democrat on the amendment as well, but as of now we have no firm commitments.

#110 Fudge (OH) - To require USDA agencies to provide a time and date stamped receipt for service to each farmer and rancher requesting information or service from USDA Amendment. - This amendment adds authority to require the issuance of a receipt for service or denial of service to any current or prospective participant in USDA programs serving farmers and ranchers as operated by the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources and Conservation Service and in any other USDA program directly serving producers.  In a time of tight resources, a receipt for service will help assure that all farmers and ranchers receive clear information on programs available to them and what they need to do to access them, and verify that information has been provided. (Originally Sen. Tom Udall's amendment).

#115 Kaptur (OH) - To prohibit retaliatory actions against livestock producers and poultry growers Amendment. - It has become common for livestock and poultry companies to retaliate against contract farmers who speak up about abusive contracting practices. The amendment clarifies that it is a clear violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act for companies to retaliate against farmers for exercising their legal rights, such as talking to federal agency officials or members of Congress about their farming operations and contracts. It would prohibits meatpackers from taking any kind of retaliatory action against livestock producers who speak out and would put an end to the ongoing actions by meatpackers who retaliate against producers who complain to federal agencies and to their members of Congress. (Originally Sen. Jay Rockefeller's amendment).

#176 Pingree (ME), Fortenberry (NE), Gibson (NY), and McIntyre (NC) - Local Food and Rural Development Amendment - This amendment is a fairly large package of items from the Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act marker bill that did not get included in the House Agriculture Committee reported bill. Among the issues included are Value-Added Producer Grants, Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance, Business & Industry Local and Regional Food Enterprise Loans, Seeds and Breeds research, Organic Crop Insurance, Local Food Enterprise Facilitation extension, AFRI priorities for beginning farmers and for local food, and improved guidance and technical assistance for very small meat and poultry processing facilities.


#159 Wagner, Ann (MO), Blackburn (TN), Walberg (MI) - Lifetime ban on SNAP benefits to certain felons Amendment: The amendment creates a lifetime ban on SNAP benefits for anyone convicted of a drug-related felony, rape, murder, felony-robbery, or treason. Allows states to opt-in/opt-out of the lifetime ban to a minimum of a five (5) year ban.

This is the time to reach out to your member of Congress and let them know you want to get our farm policy back on track by reforming subsidies and investing in a more sustainable future.  Have questions? Need more information?  Send us an e-mail.  As always like us on Facebook and join the conversation.  Until Next Time…