48 hours for the 2013 Farm Bill

This Tuesday and Wednesday Congress is finally taking up the Farm Bill – and we already know there will be a lot to keep track of and a lot to discuss. There is a lot in this post – you don’t have to write in about everything. Just pick your favorite topic and go!

Farm Bill Hearings:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013: Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

Listen LIVE: http://www.ag.senate.gov/ (there will be a link to listen Tuesday morning)

Hearing starts 10:00am EST, 9:00am CST, 8:00am MST

Senator John Thune will be representing South Dakota on the Agriculture Committee – make sure you email him and call his office at (202) 224-2321 to make sure he advocates for South Dakota farmers and ranchers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013: House Committee on Agriculture

Listen LIVE: http://agriculture.house.gov/markup/consider-2013-farm-bill (link to listen is in the upper left-hand corner)

Hearing starts 10:00am EST, 9:00am CST, 8:00am MST

Rep. Kristi Noem will be representing South Dakota on the Agriculture Committee – make sure you email her and call her office at (202) 225-2801 to make sure he advocates for South Dakota farmers and ranchers.

Some things to watch out for:

Country of Origin Labeling:

The House version of the bill contains Section 12104 requiring a study of COOL. We urge you to contact Rep. Kristi Noem and ask that she support Country of Origin Labeling and support the removal of Section 12104.

In the Senate, Johanns amendment #1 would repeal COOL all together. We strongly urge you to write to Sen. Thune or call his office at (202) 224-2321 and urge him to oppose this amendment.

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers:

There are some great opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers – but we  need to push to get some key amendments into the Senate bill. Please write to Sen. Thune or call his office at (202) 224-2321 and urge him to support these amendments:

Harkin #4, #6, and #7. Senator Harkin’s #4 improves farm safety training for beginning farmers, #6 establishes microloans for beginning and military veteran farmers and ranchers, and #7 decreases the unreasonably high minimum interest rate on certain loans to make them more accessible to new farmers. These amendments are based on key parts of a bill you’ve probably heard of – the Beginning Farmer & Rancher Opportunity Act!

Local Food

Please write to Sen. Thune or call his office at (202) 224-2321 and urge him to support these amendments:

Brown #2, Cowan #4, and Cowan #5. Senator Brown’s amendment will restore funding for programs that help communities receive emergency food aid and develop community-led solutions for better food access, including Community Food Projects and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. Senator Cowan’s amendment #4 will help farmers growing food for local and regional markets receive loans from Farm Service Agency credit programs, and #5 will increase needed funding for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.

2013_5-farm-bill-committee-markup

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