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Keeping Score

Thursday, June 14, 2012

National leaders in food and farm policy have taken steps to form a new nonprofit organization that for the first time will hold lawmakers in Congress accountable for their votes on a broad range of issues, including food safety, farm subsidies, nutrition assistance, farm animal welfare, fisheries management, organic and local food, farm and food worker justice, and the impacts of food and farm policies on the environment.

The new 501c(4) organization will publish the first National Food Policy Scorecard in the fall of 2012. The scorecard will be based on floor votes taken in the House and Senate during the 112th Congress, including amendments proposed to the farm bill currently under consideration by the Senate.

The scorecard will be widely disseminated to educate the public about the voting records of their representatives and senators on important food and agriculture policy legislation. National leaders engaged in legislative efforts to address America’s broken food and agriculture system are founding the organization. The formal launch of the new organization will take place later this year.

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At a Capitol Hill press conference today, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., urged the Senate to support their bipartisan amendment to end excessive federal crop insurance subsidies for large American farming operations.

Premium subsidies to farmers are not currently subject to limits or means testing. In 2011, 26 farm businesses received a total of more than $1 million to reduce the cost of their crop insurance premium, and more than 10,000 farm businesses received more than $100,000, according to an EWG analysis.

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Table Scraps

-       The Economist examines the 2012 farm bill in a piece called “Boondoggle Harvest.”

-       The New York Times’ Mark Bittman writes “Here’s an open letter by many people we admire to Congress imploring lawmakers to improve the farm bill, investing in programs that support conservation, new farmers, local, organic and healthy food, and feeding the hungry, rather than favoring commodity crops.”

-       The hard working government transparency advocates at the Sunlight Foundation released a new investigation that answers the question “Who's the money behind the farm bill?”

-       Take Part has published an excellent infographic called “The Hidden Cost of the Farm Bill.”

-       Politico’s David Rogers reports that the Senate soundly rejected food stamp cuts.

-       The Bismarck Tribune reports “North Dakota will lose more than a half-million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program this fall, a loss that will affect wildlife and hunters alike.”

-       Senator John McCain R-Ariz., released his “Farm Bill Top Ten List.”

-       At US News Nancy Pfotenhauer writes “Then there are rural Republican members of Congress who routinely denounce special interest politics and subsidies, but develop a serious case of amnesia when the farm bill is under consideration.”

-       The Hagstrom Report says “Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., filed today his long-awaited amendment containing a target-price based commodity program.” Link to amendment here (PDF).

Tweet of the day

@timcarman Glickman wants to know whether Congress will get a Farm Bill. Boozman says it needs a "number of amendments to make it better." #thinkfood

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