By Brittany Jablonsky, NFU government relations representative

The Senate has begun its work on amendments to the 2012 Farm Bill (also known as S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012), and NFU has been working hard to make sure that important amendments supporting family farmers and ranchers receive top priority.

This morning NFU sent a letter to Senators outlining our positions on key amendments. NFU will be including several amendments highlighting our members’ highest priorities in our annual voting scorecard, including the following seven:

  • Sens. Durbin and Coburn #2439 (limits crop insurance premium subsidy provided to farmers with an adjusted gross income greater than $750,000) – SUPPORT
  • Sen. Ayotte #2192 (drastically modifies the Value-Added Producer Grant program by conducting an Office of the Inspector General audit before the distribution of funding) – OPPOSE
  • Update: this amendment failed, 38-61
  • Sen. Lee #2314 (eliminates the Conservation Reserve Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program) – OPPOSE
  • Sen. Toomey #2226 (eliminates funding for important energy title programs) – OPPOSE
  • Sen. Toomey #2443 (eliminates the no-cost sugar program) – OPPOSE
  • Sen. Chambliss # 2438 (establishes conservation compliance requirements for the federal crop insurance program) – SUPPORT
  • Sen. Chambliss #2432 (eliminates funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program) – OPPOSE

Additionally, NFU urged Senators’ consideration of the following amendments:

  • Sen. Brown #2445 (establishes mandatory funding for certain rural development programs) – SUPPORT
  • Update: this amendment passed, 55-44
  • Sen. Kerry #2187 (extends eligibility for emergency loans to commercial fishermen) – SUPPORT
  • Sen. Merkley #2382 (improves crop insurance products for organic producers) – SUPPORT
  • Sen. Klobuchar #2299 (requires study on rural transportation issues) – SUPPORT
  • Sen. Snowe #2190 (reforms the Federal Milk Marketing Order) – SUPPORT
  • Update: this amendment passed, 66-33
  • Sen. Grassley #2167 (establishes payment cap on marketing loans) – SUPPORT
  • Update: this amendment passed, 75-24
  • Sen. Toomey #2217 (eliminates the Organic Certification Cost-Share Program) – OPPOSE

Now, here’s where we need your help! It is critical that your Senators hear from you about these important amendments. Contact your Senators today and tell them to support family farmers and ranchers with their farm bill amendment votes. To call your Senators’ office, call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and you will be connected directly with the Senate office you request. And if you use Twitter, tweet your support using #FarmBillNow and make sure to mention @NFUDC!

The full list of amendments to be considered, as well as links to their full text, can be found at

Roll call votes will be posted on the Senate’s website, and live updates on Senate action can be found at

Amendment Votes Taken Tuesday, June 19:

·      Akaka, D-Hawaii, 2440    (Highly fractionated tribal lands)
Pass    Voice
·      Akaka, D-Hawaii, 2396    (Establishes at USDA an Office of Tribal Relations)
Pass     Voice
·      Baucus, D – Mont., 2429 (Provides alternative drought determination methods for eligibility in the Livestock Forage Protection Program)
Pass     Voice
·      Bingaman, D-N.M., 2364  (To carve out a 10% cut in EQIP for water quantity improvement)
·      Brown, D-Ohio, 2445  (Rural development mandatory funding levels) – NFU position: SupportPassed
Y: 55 N: 44
·      Cantwell, D – Wash., 2370  (To encourage greater awareness and interest in pulse crop products available to schoolchildren, $10 million discretionary funding)
Passed  Y: 58 N: 41
·      Casey, D – Pa., 2238   (To require more frequent dairy reporting.)
Passed  Y: 73 N:26
·      Snowe, R – Maine,  2190  (Milk marketing order study) – NFU position: Support
Passed Y: 66 N: 33
·      Ayotte, R – N.H., 2192  (Make changes to value-added agriculture producer grant program, requiring OIG audit before grants are made) – NFU position: Oppose and score vote
Failed Y: 38 N: 61
·      Collins, R – Maine, 2444  (Study of impacts of dairy end-product pricing, FMMO reform, price volatility.)
·      Grassley, R – Iowa,  2167  (Provide payment limitations to marketing loan gains and loan deficiency programs.) – NFU position: Support
Passed  Y: 75 N: 24
·      Sessions, R – Ala., 2174  (Limit categorical eligibility for SNAP to those who receive cash assistance.)
Failed Y: 43 N: 56
·      Nelson, D – Neb., 2243  (Ensure that performance bonus payments are used by State agencies only to carry out SNAP)
Pass     Voice
·      Sessions, R – Ala., 2172  (End the state bonus payments for administering the SNAP program.)
Failed  Y: 41 N: 58
·      Paul, R – Ky., 2181   (Establish an average adjusted gross income limitation of $250,000 for all payments and benefits under the Farm Bill.)
Failed  Y: 15 N: 74
·      Feinstein, D – Calif.,  2422  (Revises required USDA reports on efficacy of Conservation Innovation Grants and Payments)
Pass     Voice
·      Alexander, R – Tenn.,  2191  (Provide that any entity receiving a business and industry direct orguaranteed lean for wind energy project is ineligible for any other Federalbenefit, assistance, or incentive for that project.)
Failed Y: 33 N: 66
·      McCain, R – Az.,  2199  (To repeal a duplicative program relating to inspection and grading of catfish.)
Failed  Voice
·      Toomey, R – Pa.,  2217  (To eliminate the organic certification cost share assistance program.)
–       NFU position: Oppose
Failed  Y: 42 N:57
·      DeMint, R – S.C.,  2263  (To maintain funding at current levels for programs providing access to broadband telecommunications services in rural areas.)
Failed  Y: 45 N: 54
·      DeMint, R – S.C., 2262  (To express the sense of the Senate that nothing in this Act or an amendment made by this Act should manipulate prices or interfere with the free market.)
Passed            Voice
·      Feinstein, D – Calif., 2309  (Require Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to study the concept of a food safety insurance program)
Passed  Y:76 N:23
·      Gillibrand, D – N.Y., 2156  (Strike reduction to SNAP and increase funds to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program, offset limiting crop insurance reimbursements.)  ***MODIFIED AT THE TABLE***
Y: 33 N: 66
·      Hagan, D – N.C., 2366  (Instructs USDA to provide greater clarification of crop insurance programs by simplifying language and improved website accessibility.)
Passed  Voice
·      Kerry, D – Mass., 2187  (Extend eligibility for certain emergency loans to commercial fishermen.) – NFU position: Support
Passed  Voice


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