Senate Passes 2012 Farm Bill

Senate Passes 2012 Farm Bill

Wed 27 Jun 2012

Story by The Food Revolution Team & Environmental Working Group

Last Week, the U.S. Senate Passed its Version of the 2012 Farm Bill

The current Farm Bill expires on the 30th of September and the Senate’s vote is the first step in order to pass a new bill before the present one expires.

Earlier in the month, we joined over 70 other thought leaders, chefs, real food advocates and organizations to advocate for a Farm Bill that increases investment in local and healthy food. Many signatories to the letter supported Senator Gillibrand’s amendment for healthy food that would have reduced subsidies to crop insurance companies in order to restore proposed cuts to nutrition assistance programs and increase funding for the fresh fruit and vegetable snack program in schools. However, despite the support of many people across the nation, including many of our community members, the Senate missed another real food opportunity by voting against the amendment 33-66.

Environmental Working Group issued the following statement on the Senate’s failure to pass the amendment:

“Today, the Senate put the needs of crop insurance companies ahead of the needs of our children. Rather than restore cuts to nutrition assistance programs and invest in healthy diets, the Senate today voted to support windfall profits for insurance companies, many of which are based in insurance tax havens like Bermuda and Switzerland. We applaud Sen. Gillibrand for her leadership,” said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at EWG.

Although this amendment was not adopted it did start a historic debate that will continue as the bill moves on. Additionally, while the bill passed by the Senate cuts nutrition funding, there were some positive outcomes of the Senate bill, which included important reforms to crop subsidies as well as building on past efforts to support healthy diets and expand links between consumers and farmers.

Next Up, the U.S. House of Representatives to Vote on the Bill

The Farm Bill is now in the hands of the House of Representatives who still have to vote. While the outcome of the Farm Bill in the Senate is not what we had hope for, the bill that will be finalized in a few weeks by the House Ag Committee is expected to have more cuts to nutrition, local and healthy food programs. Once the House Ag Committee drafts the bill, it will then be sent to the House floor for a full vote (that is if the House leadership allows a vote, which is not yet certain).

In a statement on the Senate farm bill, Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group stated that "For the “food movement”, the Senate farm bill has been another, rather sobering reminder that until we develop political muscle to match our passion for a sustainable food system, we’ll continue to see billions of dollars misspent on industrial agriculture."

We need to stand up for real food as this bill goes to the House and urge the house to maintain and strengthen the nutrition and local and healthy food provisions that are included in the Senate bill.

Stay tuned for ways to stay involved in this important fight.

In the meantime, check out this article from Mark Bittman on progress in the food system and some of wins that have been achieved this year, both in and out of the Farm Bill.

The Food Revolution Team & Environmental Working Group (EWG)


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