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E-M:/ Fwd: Farm Bill Action Needed TODAY--Two BIG Wins Last Week!




So far, so GOOD on the federal 2002 Farm Bill. Your calls for conservation, free market reforms, and other supports for a more conscientious and competitive agriculture economy are working.

Big THANKS go to Michigan senators Levin and Stabenow for helping win important protections last week for independent farmers in a corporate-controlled industry.

Please read the latest below on Farm Bill action from the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture. And make those calls. It's important to stick with the process through the end.

Patty Cantrell
Michigan Land Use Institute



NATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
 www.SustainableAgriculture.net

Modified 12.17.01

Your calls resulted in TWO MAJOR WINS last week!

Passage of the Wellstone-Grassley-Johnson amendment banning packer ownership of livestock, and the Feingold-Grassley-Harkin amendment on forced mandatory binding arbitration, SHOCKED big agri-industry!  What shocked them is your grassroots action in support of family farms and ranches winning out over industry's deep pockets.

YOUR CALLS ON THE REMAINING AMENDMENTS ARE ESSENTIAL! 

SENATORS WILL RESUME VOTING TUESDAY. PLEASE CALL TODAY!

The opposition wants to drag this out to wear you down.  Show them you’re in this for the long-haul.  Keep making those calls!

Even if you’ve made calls the last two weeks, we ask that you please call again. 
We know there are a lot of amendments for you to consider.  Please act on as many as you are willing.  The vote of EVERY Senator is important!

Summaries of how Senators voted on the Packer Ownership and Binding Arbitration amendments are at the end of this alert. Please thank your Senator if he or she supported these very important amendments!  If they opposed, ask them why.  Industry has vowed a “virtual war” against these two amendments so it is critical that you demonstrate continued support.  We will have to fight for them when the farm bill goes to the Senate-House conference committee.

Descriptions of all of these issues and amendments can be found at the end of this alert.


Please Call BOTH of Your Senators TODAY!  Here’s how.

Call before noon Eastern on Tuesday if at all possible.  Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senator by name.  Ask to speak with the legislative aide who handles agriculture.  If you get voice mail, leave a short message.  If you leave a message with a person and you don't think they got it right, ask them to read it back.  You can also ask for a response from the Senator. 

If you have trouble getting through to offices in D.C., please call your Senator’s district office.  You can find this number in the government pages of your local phone book.  Make sure the district office understands that they are to communicate your message to the D.C. office.  If possible, please take a minute to send us an e-mail at action@sustainableagriculture.net to let us know what kind of response you received.  THANK YOU!


Please call about the following:

Fight for what we have won in the bill reported out of the Senate Ag Committee.
·       Oppose the Cochran-Roberts amendment that would essentially strip away everything we have won so far in the bill reported out of the Senate Agriculture Committee (i.e. Conservation Security Act, beginning farmer and rancher program, value-added and microenterprise development programs, etc.).

·       Support the Rural Development and Research Titles as reported out of the Senate Ag Committee.

Prevent future, and address past, discrimination in USDA programs.

Support the Daschle Amendment establishing an Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at USDA to enable the Secretary to better address the longstanding need to increase civil rights activity and oversight.

Put reasonable limits on farm program payments.

Support the Dorgan-Grassley-Johnson-Hagel-Nelson-Lugar-Torricelli-Wellstone Payment Limitation Amendment that, among other things, would require that all payments be directly attributed to a flesh and blood person, including payments received through a corporation and other “paper farm” entities, and put a real limit on these payments.

Strengthen the Conservation Title reported out of the Senate Ag Committee.
·       Support the Wellstone amendment preventing the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from becoming a massive giveaway to the nation’s largest industrial animal factories, and from using taxpayer funds for new or expanded confined animal feedlot operations (CAFOs).

·       Support the Durbin Amendment protecting native prairie and other grasslands by denying farm commodity program and crop insurance subsidies on non-cropland converted to crop production.

·       Voice your continued support for a Conservation Security Act that is fully funded for the entire duration of the Farm Bill.  In a purely partisan attack, the Administration singled out the Conservation Security Act in its critique of the Farm Bill.

Promote fair competition and fight concentration in our domestic agricultural markets.
The Competition Title was narrowly defeated in the Senate Ag Committee.  These amendments and others represent significant first steps towards improving the fairness of our domestic markets.
·       Urge them to support a Captive Supply Amendment that will make packers negotiate contracts for cattle and hogs openly and publicly, restoring open markets and ending secret back-room deals that hurt family farmers and ranchers, and consumers.

·       Support the Harkin Amendment authorizing production contract oversight by the Grain Inspectors, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), and a limited prohibition on confidentiality clauses in contracts.

·       Oppose any amendment that would weaken or eliminate the Wellstone Country of Origin Labeling amendment passed by the Senate Ag Committee.

·       Thank Senators who supported the Wellstone-Grassley-Johnson-Thomas-Dorgan Amendment banning packer ownership of livestock and the Feingold-Grassley-Harkin Amendment prohibiting forced binding arbitration clauses in agricultural contracts.  If your Senator opposed either amendment, ask why.  A voting summary is at the end of this alert.



Brief Summary of Amendments & Issues

The Cochran-Roberts Amendment: This amendment would strip the Farm Bill of many of the important things we won in the Senate Ag Committee.  While this amendment failed to pass in committee, we expect some variation of it to be reintroduced on the Senate floor with the backing of the White House. The Cochran-Roberts amendment costs about the same as the bill reported out of the Senate Ag Committee but it:

·  Cuts conservation funding, including elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Act that is the first real attempt to provide all types of farmers and ranchers throughout the nation with incentives to use good stewardship practices on land in active production. Cochran-Roberts would kill the chances for a good stewardship incentives program until the next farm bill;
·  Eliminates the gains we made in the Senate Agriculture Committee to support micro-enterprise and value-added development for family farms and ranches, and their communities; and
·  Eliminates the gains we made in providing technical and financial assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers.

It does so only to put more money into cotton and rice commodity payments. Visit www.sustainableagriculture.net for a summary of what we won in the Senate Ag Committee so you’ll know what we have to lose.

Wins in the Rural Development and Research Titles: In the Rural Development Title we won a $75 million a year Value Added Grant program and a $10 million a year Rural Entrepreneurs and Microenterprise Assistance Program. In the Research Title we won a $15 million a year Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and a $15 million a year Rural Research and Education program. These programs are designed to help family farmers and ranchers stay on their farms, help revitalize rural communities, and give consumers greater real choice. If Senator Cochran has his way these programs will either be opposed altogether or subjected to the uncertainties of the annual appropriations process, meaning their funding could be cut or eliminated in any given year.  During the debate in the Senate Ag Committee, Senator Cochran vowed to offer an amendment on the Senate floor to strip the Rural Development and Research Titles of mandatory spending. Other Senate Appropriators may feel the same way.  Defend what we have gained!

Daschle USDA Civil Rights Protection Amendment:  The establishment of an Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at USDA would enable the Secretary to better address the longstanding need to increase civil rights activity and oversight. While the Department has, in the face of costly lawsuits, made progress in addressing past discrimination, there is still major work to be done. The creation of an Assistant Secretary who attends to civil rights is essential to assure that not only past cases arising from the historical discrimination against both minority farmers and employees of the department are fully settled, but also to establish a proactive system that roots out and prevents these actions from recurring. The Civil Rights Division at present is subsumed under the Administrative wing of the Department, reporting to the Assistant Secretary of Administration (ASA). This structure has led to weak enforcement of anti-discrimination policies in USDA programs. Moreover, since the Administrative unit under the ASA is also in charge of human resources, inherent conflicts exist between personnel and employment discrimination functions. The amendment would appropriately separate civil rights functions from the Human Resources functions that now both rest with the ASA.

The Dorgan-Grassley-Hagel-Johnson Payment Limitation Amendment:  Would cap ‘fixed’ and ‘counter cyclical’ payments at $75,000 and ‘marketing loan gains’ and ‘loan deficiency payments’ at $150,000.  A husband and wife could receive no more than an additional $50,000.  The real, effective limitation under the amendment would be $275,000.  In comparison, the bill reported by the Agriculture Committee would set a nominal limitation of $500,000 ($550,000 in the House bill) and, due to legal loopholes, no actual real, effective cap at all.  The Dorgan-Grassley-Hagel-Johnson Amendment would depart from current law, which allows large farms to receive twice the payment limitation by dividing their operations among several corporations (three entity rule) or between spouses (spouse rule).  While the current, loophole-ridden law would be perpetuated in the House and Senate Committee bills, the amendment would require that all payments be directly attributed to a flesh and blood person, including payments received through a corporation and other “paper farm” entities.  The amendment also closes the two biggest loopholes in the limitation on loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains  the lack of any limitation on generic certificates or forfeited commodities.  The proposal would also tighten the “actively engaged in farming” rules to ensure that farm programs participants are truly involved in farming, and end payments to wealthy non-farmers with high net farm incomes.  This amendment will reduce pressure on land prices and cash rents, reduce price-depressing overproduction, and reduce mega-payments to large producers who use that money to compete in the land market against neighbors and beginning farmers.  The amendment saves over $1 billion according to an extremely conservative estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.  The amendment sponsors propose to reinvest the savings in additional farm safety net provisions and nutrition program enhancements. 

Wellstone EQIP CAFO Amendment:  Three out of four family farmers who now apply for EQIP money are rejected due to the lack of money to meet demand. Under current EQIP law, large CAFOs are not eligible to receive cost-share assistance for waste management structures. S. 1731 removes the eligibility size cap. The amendment put forth by Senator Wellstone does not reinstate the size cap, but contains important provisions that will prevent EQIP from becoming an incentive for the expansion of CAFOs:

·       Prohibits new or expanding CAFOs from receiving cost-share assistance for installation of animal waste management facilities and related equipment.
·       Prohibits individuals and entities that have an interest in more than one CAFO from receiving cost-share assistance for animal waste management facilities and related equipment.
·       Prohibits CAFOs sited in a floodplain from receiving cost-share assistance for animal waste management facilities and related equipment.
·       Requires all participants receiving cost-share assistance for animal waste management facilities to develop and implement a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan.
·       Sets the payment limitation at no more than $100,000 for a 5-year contract or $60,000 for a 3-year contract.

The limitations set forth in the amendment represent the best possible compromise between broadening the number of operations that can receive EQIP assistance, and preventing this program from becoming a massive giveaway to factory farm agribusinesses or an incentive for animal feeding operations to expand.

The Conservation Security Act: The Conservation Security Act represents a new direction in agriculture conservation policy that would complement existing programs.  It will reward all types of farmers and ranchers for the real conservation and environmental benefits they provide to society by being good stewards of the land they actively farm.  It recognizes the tremendous diversity in farming operations throughout the nation, and would be available to all kinds of farmers and ranchers based on their stewardship practices, rather than on the crops or livestock they raise.

The Durbin Grasslands Protection Amendment:  The amendment is a common sense extension of existing law withholding taxpayer support to those breaking new ground on highly erodible land.  The Durbin proposal would extend protection to all land without a crop production history, recognizing the important soil and wildlife benefits to be gained.  The amendment also would lessen incentives to increase production beyond levels supported by the market, reducing downward pressure on crop prices and farm income.  The amendment is carefully crafted to cover land without a cropping history (not including land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program -- CRP) in at least one of the last five (or three of the past ten) years, while exempting land in long term rotations.  The exemption is important to ensure there are no unintended consequences for farms and ranches with using environmentally sound, grass-based systems with occasional or sequenced cropping.

The following amendments relate to competition policy in agriculture.  These issues are fundamentally related to family farm and ranch income, social justice, and environmental protection  not to mention fair economic competition.  These are new issues to many, but they are as fundamental to sustainable agriculture as more familiar issues.

Dorgan-Johnson Amendment Banning Captive Supplies:  Would prohibit certain anti-competitive livestock contracts.  Half or more of all cattle, and three quarters of all hogs, are procured under these kinds of agreements every day.  Packers can use these supplies to manipulate prices to the disadvantage of family farmers and ranchers, and they use these types of agreements to favor the biggest industrial factory livestock operations.  The Dorgan-Johnson amendment would prohibit the use of formula price forward contracts, that do not have a fixed base price, to procure livestock.  It would require all forward contracts to have a fixed base price (i.e. base price can be equated to a dollar amount the day the contract is entered into) and that the forward contracts must be traded in an open public market.

Harkin Amendment authorizing production contract oversight by the Grain Inspectors, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), and limited prohibition on confidentiality clauses in contracts:  Would give GIPSA authority over production contracts for livestock (non-poultry).  The amendment would also include a limited prohibition on confidentiality clauses in contracts.  For example, it says that no matter what a contract says, producers will be permitted to share their contracts with legal advisors, family members, and possibly state and federal government officials.  Currently many contracts won’t let the farmer share the contract with anyoneeven for consultation with family or for legal or economic advice.


Record on Amendments Voted Upon Thus Far
To see the record of any vote on the Senate floor go to: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/vote1071/vote_menu.html.

Feingold-Grassley-Harkin Amendment prohibiting binding arbitration clauses in agricultural contracts PASSED! Mandatory binding arbitration clauses are used by companies to force farmers to give up their rights to settle a dispute in court in the event a dispute rises between the company and the grower.  These clauses are usually accepted under duress--farmers have no other choice.  Prohibiting binding arbitration clauses could significantly stem the tide of abusive contracts.  Senator Harkin had included such a provision in the Competition Title, which was voted down in the Senate Ag Committee.  Feingold has strongly opposed the use of pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in all contracts, most recently a bill dealing with car dealer/manufacturer contracts, and the “patients bill of rights.”

YEAs --- 64
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Breaux (D-LA)
Brownback (R-KS)
Burns (R-MT)
Byrd (D-WV)
Campbell (R-CO)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carnahan (D-MO)
Carper (D-DE)
Chafee (R-RI)
Clinton (D-NY)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corzine (D-NJ)
Daschle (D-SD)
Dayton (D-MN)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Edwards (D-NC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Graham (D-FL)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hollings (D-SC)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Thomas (R-WY)
Torricelli (D-NJ)
Warner (R-VA)
Wellstone (D-MN)
Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs --- 31
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bond (R-MO)
Bunning (R-KY)
Cleland (D-GA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
Ensign (R-NV)
Fitzgerald (R-IL)
Frist (R-TN)
Gramm (R-TX)
Helms (R-NC)
Hutchinson (R-AR)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Miller (D-GA)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nickles (R-OK)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Smith (R-NH)
Stevens (R-AK)
Thompson (R-TN)
Thurmond (R-SC)
Voinovich (R-OH)

Present --- 1
Smith (R-OR)

Not Voting --- 4
Bennett (R-UT)
Domenici (R-NM)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)




The Wellstone-Grassley-Johnson Amendment banning packer ownership of livestock PASSED! Would ban packer ownership of livestock.  Packers use supplies of livestock they own or control through secret deals with a few favored cattle and hog producers (known as “captive supply” contracts) to force independent producers to take lower prices.  This amendment will prohibit packers from owning livestock more than 14 days before they are slaughtered.  This will not affect the value-added livestock efforts that family farmers and ranchers are organizing around the nation.  There is a farm cooperative exclusion from the ban on feeding, and there is a size threshold so that any packer owned or controlled by producers of the livestock species being slaughtered by the packer with less than 2% of the national market is unaffected.

YEAs --- 51
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Breaux (D-LA)
Burns (R-MT)
Byrd (D-WV)
Campbell (R-CO)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carnahan (D-MO)
Carper (D-DE)
Chafee (R-RI)
Cleland (D-GA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
Daschle (D-SD)
Dayton (D-MN)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Graham (D-FL)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hagel (R-NE)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hollings (D-SC)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Thomas (R-WY)
Wellstone (D-MN)
Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs --- 46
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corzine (D-NJ)
Durbin (D-IL)
Edwards (D-NC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Fitzgerald (R-IL)
Frist (R-TN)
Gramm (R-TX)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Helms (R-NC)
Hutchinson (R-AR)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Miller (D-GA)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nickles (R-OK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-NH)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Stevens (R-AK)
Thompson (R-TN)
Thurmond (R-SC)
Torricelli (D-NJ)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)

Not Voting --- 3
Domenici (R-NM)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)

Patty Cantrell, Editor
MICHIGAN LAND USE INSTITUTE
P.O. Box 228, 845 Michigan Ave.
Benzonia, MI 49616

tel: 231-882-4723 ext. 14
fax: 231-882-7350
e-mail: patty@mlui.org
internet: www.mlui.org