The first draft of the 2012 Farm Bill is here — and it doesn’t do nearly as much as it should for organic farmers, on commodity payments reform, or to prioritize agricultural research that protects public health and benefit farmers rather than the pesticide industry.
Today and tonight are critical windows for making your voice heard. It's simple and only takes 5 minutes to make a call.
Even if you get to this after business hours tonight, it’s not too late to get a better food and farm bill through Congress. But we must act quickly! Tomorrow the Senate agriculture committee will vote on a series of amendments to the draft bill.
When you call, simply ask for the staffer who works on agriculture, and deliver this message:
"I support sensible farm policy and urge Senator [insert name] to co-sponsor and support the following amendments:
Sen. Casey’s amendment to fix crop insurance for organic farmers by removing the unjustified 5% premium;
Sen. Gillibrand’s Seeds and Breeds Research Priority, which will help fund public breeding so that farmers can access un-patented and locally appropriate seeds and breeds;
Sen. Leahy’s IPM Research, Public Health, and Technology Review amendment; and
Both amendments that restore fiscal responsibility by capping subsidy payments. The Grassley amendment will tighten commodity payment limitations and close loopholes, and the Brown-Nelson amendment, 'Reforming AGI Caps' will re-direct payments to support better programs.
These five amendments are critical pieces of any Food and Farm Bill that makes sense, and I urge Senator [insert name] to actively support them. Thank you."
PM Research, Public Health Report, and Technology Review: Sen. Leahy (D-VT) will be filing an amendment that will accomplish several key research priorities, including re-establishing a board to provide analysis and oversight of federally funded agricultural technologies, requiring USDA to prepare a report on the impacts of federal agricultural policies and programs on public health, and authorizing regional centers to coordinate integrated pest management research and activities across the country.
Seeds and Breeds Research Priority: Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) will be filing an amendment that will require that 5 percent of total AFRI funding be used for conventional plant and animal breeding, and clarifies that conventional breeding should focus on the development of public plant cultivar and animal breeds that do not require the use of genetic technology. This provision will require a fair percentage of program funding be invested in public breeding and ensures that farmers have access to locally adapted and publicly available seeds and breeds.
Crop Insurance for Organic Farmers: Sen. Casey (D-PA) will be filing an amendment to fix crop insurance for organic farmers by removing the unjustified premium surcharge for organic and directing the Risk Management Agency to develop organic price elections.
Reforming AGI Caps: Sens. Brown (D-OH) and Nelson (D-NE) will be filing an amendment to reform AGI caps and use the savings to fund a number of programs, including the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the BFR Individual Development Account, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, and the Value-Added Producer Grants program.
Payment Limitations and Actively Engaged: Sen. Grassley (R-IA) will be filing an amendment that will tighten payments limitations and close loopholes in commodity payment programs.