Senate Farm Bill vote coming up quickly – call now!

The Senate will be voting on its version of the Farm Bill this week —  and before the final vote, there will be a series of votes on proposed amendments. The voting on the amendments could start as early as this afternoon [posted June 27, 2018] , so it’s vital that you call your Senator now!

Some amendments we had worked for (like the PRIME Act) haven’t been filed, but there are several important opportunities for reform on the table.

 

Please call now and urge both your Senators to support:

 

  • The Lee-Booker Checkoff Reform Amendment SA 3074, which would prevent Big Ag trade organizations from pocketing the money and then lobbying against our farmers’ interests. The amendment would also bring greater transparency and accountability to the Checkoff programs.
  • Merkley Amendments SA 3143 and SA 3146, for accurate GMO labeling. Amendment 3143 would ensure that the new GMO labeling standard covers all genetic engineering technologies, and Amendment 3146 would require on-package labeling using the terminology that consumers are familiar with (“GMO” and “genetically engineered”). These amendments fix the terrible rule proposed by the USDA and provide clear, truthful GMO labeling.
  • The Booker Anti-Retaliation Amendment SA 3151 to prevent large meatpacking corporations from retaliating against farmers who speak out about illegal or harmful corporate actions. This is long-overdue “whistleblower” protection for farmers who alert their elected officials or the public about problems ranging from animal welfare to anti-competitive behavior.

 

Take Action: Call Your U.S. Senators TODAY

Call both of your U.S. Senators and urge them to vote “yes” on these amendments to the Farm Bill.

 

You can find out who represents you by going to www.senate.gov/senators/contact or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

 

A sample message for calls and emails is below. If you get their voice mail, be sure to leave a clear message —  time is of the essence!

 

Hi, I’m _____ from _____. I’m a __________ [farmer, local food consumer, chef…].

 

As a constituent, I urge Senator _______ to vote YES on the following amendments to the Farm Bill:

 

  • The Lee-Booker Checkoff Reform Amendment SA 3074. Farmers’ tax dollars should only go to neutral entities that don’t lobby, and we need safeguards to ensure that the money is spent fairly.
  • Merkley Amendments SA 3143 and SA 3146, for accurate GMO labeling. Consumers need GMO labeling that covers all the relevant technologies and that is provided through simple, on-package words —  just like other types of disclosures. These amendments fix the terrible rule proposed by the USDA and provide clear, truthful GMO labeling.
  • The Booker Anti-Retaliation Amendment SA 3151 to prevent large meatpacking corporations from retaliating against farmers who speak up. This is long-overdue “whistleblower” protection for farmers who alert their elected officials or the public about problems ranging from animal welfare to anti-competitive behavior.

 

More Information

Checkoffs:

Under federal law, farmers of certain commodities (including pork, eggs, beef, and milk) are required to pay a portion of their sales into Checkoff funds to pay for promotional advertising and research, like the “Beef, it’s what for dinner” campaign. Checkoff programs collect tens of millions of dollars from America’s farmers and ranchers each year.

Much of the checkoff funds go to industry agriculture trade organizations. While they can’t use the money directly for lobbying, the funding helps them grow by underwriting their overhead, travel costs, etc. —  and then they are free to use their other funds to lobby against the interests of family farmers, such as by opposing country of origin labeling.

SA 3074 to the Farm Bill would prevent conflicts of interest and stop governing boards of the checkoff programs from contracting with organizations that engage in lobbying. It would also require checkoff boards to publish all budgets and disbursements of funds for public inspection.

Read the statement from Senator Booker about both the Checkoff Reform Amendment and the need for whistleblower protection here — the relevant portion begins halfway down the middle column on the second page

GMO labeling:

The USDA has proposed a ridiculous, misleading GMO labeling rule. You can read about it at http://farmandranchfreedom.org/usda-proposed-rule-gmo-labels/. Senator Merkley’s amendments would fix the two biggest problems:

  • New technologies: USDA’s rule would only require labeling of older GMO technologies —  so, many new GMO products could be sold without any disclosure. SA 3143 would ensure that the new GMO labeling standard covers all genetic engineering technologies.
  • The USDA’s proposed rule would replace the terms consumers are familiar with (GMO and genetically engineered) with the new term “bioengineered.” The proposed rule also allows companies to avoid real labeling, by instead directing people to the website or using a QR code only readable by smart phones. SA 3146 would require on-package labeling using the terminology that consumers are familiar with (“GMO” and “genetically engineered”).

Whistleblower Protection:

The Booker Anti-Retaliation Amendment would prevent huge poultry corporations from retaliating against farmers who speak up about illegal or unethical behavior. This is long-overdue “whistleblower” protection for farmers who alert their elected officials or the public about problems ranging from animal welfare to anti-competitive behavior. Companies shouldn’t be allowed to put farmers out of business for exposing their bad actions.

AND ON THE HOUSE SIDE:

The House narrowly passed its disastrous version of the Farm Bill, with a vote of 213-211. To see how your Representative voted, go to http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2018/roll284.xmlThe Senate version is our only chance for any positive changes in this year’s Farm Bill, so please take action today!