Let's Do This: Six Farm Bill Amendments You Should Probably Support

Right now, Congress is debating a giant bill that will set the rules for America's food system for years to come. Help us make sure it isn't terrible.

The Farm Bill is an enormous and very important piece of legislation that determines what farmers grow and, as a consequence, what Americans eat. You might not know it from listening to the news, but the bill is being debated in Congress right now.

This week, Senators rushed to file amendments to the 1,000-page draft legislation (officially the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012). More than 200 amendments have been filed as add-ons to the draft bill so far. Many have nothing to do with food, farming, jobs, or conservation and may be weeded out as the process unfolds. The six amendments below, however, are critically important to improving this legislation. They need broad voter support if we are to build a sensible food and farm bill in 2012.

Support Local Food

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has introduced an amendment that includes investments in local food infrastructure as well as supports for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. Without it, worthy programs like Value-Added Producer Grants, Rural Microentrepeneur Assistance Program, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program risk disappearing altogether. These are already proven programs that help family farms build local processing facilities and support training programs for the next generation of food producers.

Restore Food Stamp Funding

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment to restore the $4.49 billion proposed cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. This refunding of SNAP would be paid for by cutting to the enormous amount the federal government pays to insurance companies to provide crop insurance to farmers. This amendment will also increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for school children with an additional $500 million over 10 years for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

Limit Livestock Monopolies

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Kent Conrad (D-S.D.) have sponsored an amendment that will reduce vertical integration of the livestock market by making it unlawful for a meatpacker to own, feed, or control livestock for more than 14 days prior to slaughter. This anti-monopoly amendment is intended to help independent and family growers compete in highly concentrated markets.

Make Crop Insurance Accessible to Organic Farmers

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) offered an amendment to remove barriers to make crop insurance more accessible to organic farmers.

Limit Subsidies for Really Rich Farms

Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have introduced an amendment that reduces the federal crop insurance premium support for farmers with Adjusted Gross Income of more than $750,000 to limit payments to the wealthiest operations.

Require Taxpayer-Supported Farms to Take Care of the Land

Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced an amendment that requires conservation compliance for the purchase of federally subsidized crop insurance. This is an attempt to hold subsidy recipients ecologically and financially accountable for their land practices.

Without a public show of support (voters calling their senators) for these key improvements to the Senate Agriculture Committee’s proposed Farm Bill, the country won’t get the food and agriculture policy it needs and deserves.

Let's do this: Senators actually pay some attention to phone calls from constituents. You can get in touch with your Senators by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or looking up their direct lines here).

Then what? Once you reach a Senator's office, ask to speak to a staffer who works on agricultural issues or to leave a message. Let them know you are in support of amendments to the draft Farm Bill introduced by the specific Senators mentioned above. Support as many as you feel appropriate.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Joelk75

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

Keep Reading Show less
Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.