Friday, June 08, 2012

More Than 80 Farm Bill Amendments Submitted

A recap of the amendments to date...
Following the Senate's vote on Thursday to proceed with S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, more than 80 amendments have been submitted by 31 Senators on both sides of the aisle. These are wide ranging, covering everything from subsidies through conservation, from fishing to nutrition programs, to prohibiting Members of Congress from participating in farm programs. There's even an amendment calling for no US assistance to Pakistan until Dr. Shakil Affridi, who was crucial to the capture of Osama bin Laden, is freed.

My colleague Jerry Hagstrom, founder and executive editor of the subscription-only The Hagstrom Report, the best online agricultural news source in the US, has rounded up the amendments, and allowed his post to be replicated here. Read also the White House policy statement on the Farm Bill.

Hagstrom wrote:

Senators had filed more than 80 amendments to the farm bill by 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Here is a list of senators, in alphabetical order, and brief descriptions of the amendments they filed. Many amendments also have cosponsors, who are not listed.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

*Make co-ops and other entities that get a business and industry direct or guaranteed loan for a wind energy project ineligible for other federal benefits

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

*Improve value-added agricultural products grants

*Limit government officials’ authority to award bonuses to employees under investigation for misconduct

*Require heads of agencies to certify the accuracy of all travel expenses for teleworking employees

*Modify the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to exclude appraisers of employee stock ownership plans Require a GAO report on crop insurance fraud.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

*Prohibit the Army secretary and EPA administrator from finalizing guidance regarding waters protected by the Clean Water Act

*Change cooperative arrangements for forest, rangeland and watershed restoration and protection services

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska

*Require the Agricultural Research Service to operate at least one facility in each state

*Provide and improve housing in rural areas for educators, public safety officers and medical providers

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

*Improve agricultural land easements

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

*Encourage the purchase of pulse crop products for school meals

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.

*Establish conservation compliance for federal crop insurance

Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa.

*Authorize small operating loans for producers and farmers markets

*Require more frequent dairy reporting

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

*Limit crop insurance premium subsidies to farmers with an average adjusted gross income of $750,000. (With Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.)

*Prohibit the use of federal funds for political party conventions

*Prohibit individuals and entities with seriously delinquent tax debt from receiving federal farm subsidies.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

*Require the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to use reference prices for covered commodities in the standard reinsurance agreement

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

*Strike the reduction in the food stamp program and increase funding for the fresh fruit and vegetable program through cuts to crop insurance

*Require state agencies to determine certain eligibility for food stamps using a plan for interviewing households but not requiring that every applicant household be interviewed at application or that every household be interviewed at recertification.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

*Replace the food stamp program with a block grant

*Provide for permanent estate tax repeal

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa

*Increase funding for the beginning farmer and rancher program

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

*Prohibit members of Congress from participating in farm programs.

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.

*Clarify congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters

*Increase state efforts to transition food stamp participants off the program while eliminating the uncapped federal-state match for employment and training reimbursements

*Limit federal regulation of nuisance dust

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

*Allow the fresh fruit and vegetable program to include dried, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

*Extend eligibility for certain emergency loans to commercial fishermen

*Extend eligibility of the noninsured crop disaster assistance program to commercial fishermen.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.

*Require a study on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages on obesity.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

*Increase criminal penalties for certain knowing and intentional violations relating to food that is misbranded or adulterated

*Provide a state option for cash equivalents for the purchase of locally produced commodities under the Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983

*Support the state rural development partnership

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

*Require a report on the effects of budget sequestration on the Defense Department

*Prohibit the use of federal funds to construct, fund, install or operate blender pumps

*Eliminate subsidies for mohair and popcorn

*Repeal the sugar program

*Repeal the catfish inspection program at USDA that was included in the 2008 farm bill

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

*Modify transparency and reporting with respect to applications by providers of broadband services

*Clarify the maximum distance between Farm Service Agency county offices for purposes of closure and relocation so that it will be by 20 driven miles.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska

*Improve water loans

*Make commercial fishermen eligible for certain operating loans

*Reauthorize the Denali Commission Act of 1998

*Forbid USDA from denying an application for a housing loan because the dwelling has a water catchment or cistern system

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

*Define navigable waters

*Repeal the Lacey Act which prohibits trade in illegally obtained wildlife, fish and plants

*Prohibit Agriculture Department employees from carrying firearms under certain circumstances

*Authorize the interstate shipment of unpasteurized milk

*Establish an adjusted gross income limitation of $250,000 on the farm bill payments
Give states flexibility in administering food stamps to assure a nutritious diet

*Provide no assistance to Pakistan until Dr. Shakil Affridi is freed

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

*Promote maple syrup research and production

*Impose tariff-rate quotas on certain casein and milk protein concentrates

Sen. Jean Shaheen, D-N.H.

*Reform the sugar program

*Phase out the sugar program

*Limit crop insurance premium subsidies

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine

*Require milk marketing order reform

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

*Protect recreational hunting, fishing and shooting through the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012

*Support research on conventional plant and animal breeding

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

*Prohibit the Labor secretary from finalizing a proposed rule related to child labor on farms

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

*Eliminate the farmers market and local food promotion program

*Eliminate the margin coverage for catfish

*Eliminate the organic certification cost share program

*Eliminate the loan moratorium and policy on foreclosures

*Eliminate biorefinery, renewable chemical and biobased product manufacturing assistance
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

*Increase access to broadband

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

*Amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana

*Establish a federal task force on childhood obesity

*Require that the U.S. Trade Representative provide documents related to trade negotiations to members of Congress and their staffs

*Require the Agriculture secretary to carry out pilot projects to improve nutrition under the food stamp program.