Monsanto and Agribusiness companies have managed to insert two dangerous provisions into the Continuing Resolution (“CR”) that is about to be voted on by the U.S. Senate.
The first provision is the “Monsanto rider” we asked you to take action on last year. Although it was stripped out of the previous versions of the CR, now it’s back!
Though cloaked in “farmer-friendly” language, this “farmer assurance provision” is simply a biotech industry ploy to continue to plant genetically modified (GMO) crops even when a court of law has found they were approved illegally. The provision undermines USDA’s oversight of GMO crops and interferes with the U.S. judicial review process. It is also completely unnecessary and offers “assurance” only to biotech companies like Monsanto, not farmers.
The second provision would prevent the USDA from taking action to address anti-competitive abuses by Agribusiness. Fraudulent, deceptive and anti-competitive practices by large corporations are rampant in the livestock and poultry industries. USDA needs to do more, not less, to stop the abuse – but the rider in the CR would tie the agency’s hands and strip farmers of the few protections that exist now.
Please take action today! The Senate is expected to vote on the bill on Thursday, so time is of the essence.
If you don’t know who represents you, you can find out online at www.senate.gov or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
My name is _______, and I am a constituent. I am calling to ask that Senator _______ opppose the biotech rider, section 735, and the anti-competitive rider, section 742, that are currently included in the Senate Continuing Resolution. Please support any amendment that moves to strike these dangerous and unnecessary riders.
If Congress wants to truly protect farmers, it needs to protect the few safeguards we have in place for genetically engineered crops and against corporate abuse, not eliminate them to appease a handful of large companies.
Though wrapped in a “farmer-friendly” package, the biotech rider (section 735) is simply an industry ploy to continue to plant GMO crops even when a court of law has found they were approved illegally.
The provision is intended to force USDA to grant temporary permits and deregulations of GMO crops even if a Federal court rules that USDA hadn’t adequately considered the environmental or economic risks to farmers. This would negate any meaningful judicial review of USDA’s decisions to allow commercialization of GMO crops.
If a GMO crop approval was shown to violate the law and require further analysis of its harmful impacts (as several courts have concluded in recent years, for example with GMO alfalfa and GMO sugar beets) this provision would override any court-mandated caution and allow continued planting and commercialization while further review takes place.
The provision is completely unnecessary. No farmer has ever had his or her crops destroyed following such a court ruling. Every court to decide these issues has carefully weighed the interests of farmers, as is already required by law.
The anti-competitive rider (section 742) deals with a law from the 1920s, the Packers and Stockyards Act (“PSA”), which was intended to provide protections against anti-competitive behavior in the livestock and poultry industries. In essence, the PSA was the Sherman Antitrust Act for agriculture. Although the PSA is a good statute, the USDA never properly implemented it. And that failure over the years has allowed large corporations to practice a variety of abusive, unfair, and deceptive practices that undermine the free market.
A coalition of family farmer, independent rancher, and consumer groups fought for a provision in the 2008 Farm Bill directing the USDA to issue implementing regulations under the PSA. And we won. But the fight wasn’t over. The big meatpackers managed to hamstring many of the proposed regulations. And now they want to completely eliminate the few protections we did get, leaving the meatpackers free to continue their abusive practices that hurt farmers.