Thursday, June 14, 2012

DEADLINE TOMORROW: Sign up to Support Key Amendments to the Farm Bill

The Senate Food and Farm Bill Needs Your Help!

Please call your Senators - It's easy! The Food and Farm Bill is on the floor of the US Senate and your action is needed to make it better! Right now they are lining up support for amendments that are sorely needed in this bill. Please take action!

Please call your Senators and tell them what you want. If you are with an organization, please make calls and also sign on to letters.

Phone Calls: Just dial the Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121 Ask to be connected with one Senator from your state, and then call back and ask to speak with the other Senator. Once connected, introduce yourself and ask to speak with the agriculture staffer. Tell that staffer (or leave a message) what you support or opposes from the amendments, or other key points.

Key Senate Farm Bill Amendments:
Pick your issues and make the call! SUPPORT:

  • Brown- (SA 2362) The amendment includes important programs to farmers and local food infrastructure, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer programs, including: Value-Added Producer Grants, Rural Microentrepeneur Assistance Program, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program (Section 2501)
  • Tester (SA 2234)- This amendment will set aside 5% of annual funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative for public cultivar and breed development.
  • Grassley-Conrad (SA 2170) - This amendment will make it unlawful for a meatpacker to own, feed or control livestock intended for slaughter for more than 14 days before slaughter. This will reduce vertical integration of the livestock market and help independent and family growers compete.
  • Merkley-Feinstein-Sanders-Kerry (SA 2382) - This amendment will address barriers to make crop insurance more accessible to organic farmers.
  • Durbin-Coburn (SA2186) - reduces the federal premium support for farmers with Adjusted Gross Income of more than $750,000.
  • Cardin -(SA2219) This amendment would ensure that farmers receiving taxpayer-subsidized premium subsidies for crop insurance do not drain wetlands or farm erosion-prone soil without conservation measures (eligibility only for the crop insurance federal premium subsidy and it only applies to highly erodible land.)
  • Gillibrand (SA 2156) - This amendment restores the $4.49 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). (Cuts made in the Committee Bill that is going to the Senate floor) The SNAP funding would be paid for by a cut to the amount the federal government pays to insurance companies to provide crop insurance to farmers. Gillibrand’s amendment will also provide an additional $500 million over 10 years to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). This program provides fresh produce snacks to schoolchildren. The bill also grants authority to USDA to make bonus purchases for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) has submitted an amendment that would eliminate the fresh-only requirement in the FFVP by expanding this program to include frozen, dried, or canned fruits and vegetables.
  • Sanders-Leahy (SA 2386)- Enables schools to purchase from local and regional producers.
  • Udall (NM) (SA 2417)– Disadvantaged Producer Training – This amendment would restore funding for the Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Rancher (also known as the 2501 Program).
  • Harkin (SA 2239) – Beginning Producer Training – This amendment would increase funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
  • Harkin-Casey (SA 2245) – Microloans to Beginning and Veteran Producers – This amendment would allow FSA to make smaller "microloans" of up to $35,000, tailored to meet the needs of small, young, beginning, and veteran farmers and ranchers, streamline the application process, and provide discretionary authority to FSA to establish intermediary lender pilot projects. This amendment would also give FSA discretionary authority to establish a new pilot program to support micro-credit programs administered by non-governmental or community-based organizations.

Please call your senators or sign on to the letter by tomorrow to give these amendments a chance in the Senate!

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