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Farm Bill Reform Champions

Friday, June 22, 2012

By EWG public affairs intern Thomas McAndrew

Today, the Environmental Working Group thanked 11 senators for leading the fight for true food and farm policy reform in the 2012 farm bill that passed in the Senate. These Senate champions displayed their leadership on issues that will impact consumers, improve the environment and reduce hunger.

The EWG staff wrote in an AgMag post:

“Everyone who eats should take a moment to thank 11 senators who proposed farm bill amendments designed to ensure that our farm and food policies help more farmers, the environment and the hungry at less cost to the taxpayer.”

  • Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., successfully advanced reform by reducing crop insurance subsidies to the most profitable farm businesses.
  • Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., successfully led efforts to ensure that farmers receiving insurance subsidies carry out conservation practices.
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, successfully led efforts to put a payment cap on “marketing loan gains” at $75,000 per farmer.
  • Sens. Jeanne Shaheen D-N.H., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., offered an amendment to place a limit on insurance premium subsidies, but it was never considered.
  • Sens. Mark Begich, D-Ark., and John McCain, R-Ariz., were also never given the chance to debate their amendment, which would have increased transparency in the federal crop insurance program.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., led the fight to restore cuts to the nutrition assistance program, but her amendment was defeated.
  • Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, successfully led efforts to increase support for local and organic foods.

These senators truly reflect the views of their constituents and the rest of the American people and the realization that the farm bill should include substantive reform. EWG applauds the 11 champions who fought for taxpayers, conservation, and children.

As the attention shifts to the House, we urge its leadership to recognize the need for more reform and to strengthen conservation and nutrition provisions.

Table Scraps:

The Food and Environment Reporting Network highlights the various reforms to crop insurance in the Senate farm bill. “Crop insurance went from being the secret safety net to becoming the center piece of the debate. Before crop insurance was just a sleeper issue. These are the first cracks in the wall,” EWG’s Craig Cox told FERN.

A Press Democrat editorial points out that the Senate farm bill still comes up short of true crop insurance reform because it plows money from the discredited direct payment program to premium subsidies that incentivize farmers to plant on marginal lands.

A New York Times article dissects the Senate farm bill and looks ahead to its political future in the House.

Tweet of the Day:

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