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Senate Votes Against GMO Labels

June 21, 2012
Organic Consumers Fund
by Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq., Political Director

The Senate draft of the Farm Bill moved to the floor this week for a series of votes on 73 amendments. A final Senate vote on the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240) is expected later tonight. All of the amendments we've been tracking have been voted on.

The Senate Has Voted...

... Against GMO Labels (Sanders Amend #2310)
Check the vote here. More information coming soon...

... For Corporate Welfare for Insurance Companies, Not Food Stamps for Hungry Kids

An amendment by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, would have cut the amount paid to insurance companies to subsidize their costs in selling crop insurance. Last year, the government paid insurance companies $1.3 billion, and Ms. Gillibrand's amendment would have reduced that amount to offset a $4.5 billion cut to the food stamp program. But the Senate rejected the amendment, 66 to 33.

Find out how your senators voted and let them know what you think.


... To Support Rural Development -- the "Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act" Will Invest in Jobs, After All!

$150 million in critical funding for rural economic development and new farmer programs was restored through an amendment introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

That's $35 million for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the keystone new farmer program at USDA; $50 million over five years for the Value-Added Producer Grants program that helps farmers transition to new markets and products that return more of the consumer food dollar back to the farmer and the local community; $15 million for the Rural Microentrepeneur Assistance Program to help start new small rural businesses; and $50 million to begin to eliminate the backlog in water and sewer projects in small rural communities.

Find out how your senators voted and let them know what you think.


... To Keep Organic Programs -- Smart Move, as Organic Grows the Fastest, Creates the Most Jobs!

An amendment by Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) to remove all funding for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program went down on a 42-57 vote.

Find out how your senators voted and let them know what you think.


... To End Insurance Discrimination -- Organic Farmers Will No Longer Pay More for Less Coverage

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)'s amendment to improve crop insurance for organic farmers has passed. Currently, when organic farmers face losses and file an insurance claim, they are not paid based on the price of the organic crop but instead based on the price for the non-organic equivalent crop, which is often considerably lower. Merkley's amendment ensures that organic farmers will be compensated for losses at the relevant organic prices.

Organic farmers also currently pay a higher premium for crop insurance than non-organic farms, and the additional cost combined with lower payouts is a main factor organic producers cite for not purchasing crop insurance. Senator Merkley's amendment requires USDA to set appropriate payment levels for organic farmers.

Find out how your senators voted and let them know what you think.


... To Limit Subsidies for the Richest Farmers! (Durbin-Coburn amend #2439)
Check the vote here. More information coming soon...

Unfortunately, the following amendments will not be voted on...

Save Our Seeds -- Money for Classical Breeding Not GMOs!

Legalize Raw Milk -- Allow Interstate Sales of Raw Milk!

Let Farmers Grow Hemp -- Hemp Food Makes You Healthy, Not High!

Stop the Worst Factory Farm Abuses -- Improve the Lives of Egg-Laying Hens!

What's At Stake

The Farm Bill includes many important hunger-prevention and environmental conservation programs, but it is also packed with corporate welfare schemes that support filthy factory farms and pesticide-drenched genetically modified crops.

The Farm Bill is why junk food is cheap and consumers have to pay a premium for organic. It's why obesity, diet-related disease and health care costs are skyrocketing. It's why food production is responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions and farm run-off is fouling drinking water and creating dead-zones in the ocean.

The Senate's version of the 2012 Farm Bill makes significant changes, but none that disrupts the status quo of giving big subsidies to the rich farms, and the share for organic and sustainable agriculture programs still doesn't amount to even pennies on the dollar. In this climate of belt tightening, the Senate is leaving subsidies for the rich intact, while making extreme cuts to food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), even as the Great Recession swells the number hungry people reliant on SNAP.