A vote on the new farm bill in the House of Representatives is expected as early as tomorrow morning after what is expected to be a long debate about amendments this afternoon and into the evening and Michigan Farm Bureau is asking members to contact their congressman immediately.
Show your support of the farm bill and opposition to unfavorable amendments by texting “MIFARMBILL” to the number “52886” and clicking on the link provided to submit comments. You can also easily complete the action request on our website.
After initially preparing for up to 50 proposed bill changes, debate was narrowed to 31 amendments, among which is one that is strongly opposed by Michigan Farm Bureau’s member-developed policy.
An amendment proposed by North Carolina’s Virginia Foxx to “modernize and reform the sugar program by removing barriers to domestic production and implementing market reforms” has been seen as an attempt to depress sugar prices even further and bend to the wishes of large, multi-national candy makers, according to the American Sugar Alliance.
“It is unfortunate that an elected official of the United States of America would ever feel enthusiasm about the prospect of bankrupting U.S. farmers and sending U.S. workers to the unemployment line,” a unnamed Sugar Alliance spokesperson told the Hagstrom Report.
Another reason to oppose the sugar amendment, said Sarah Black, director of public policy with Michigan Farm Bureau, is that if it passes, the entire farm bill could be in jeopardy.
“We’ve been told by very reliable sources that Rep. Michael Conaway, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, views the sugar amendment as a ‘poison pill,’” she said. “That means that if it passes, it could jeopardize further consideration of the bill, and we’d be back to square one.”
Another amendment opposed by Farm Bureau is a phase-out of safety net provisions in the bill, and it appears that the sugar amendment, if passed, would set a precedent on which lawmakers who oppose a farm safety net could stand to further cut crop insurance and other risk-management programs.
“It’s a very bad time to cut holes in the safety net,” Black said. “So many of the sectors of our farming industry are in very depressed economic times, with many commodity prices below the cost of production. That’s why we’re asking our members to make calls to their federal representatives as soon as possible and tell them to vote against the sugar amendment and keep the farm bill moving through the House. There still is time. The debate will likely continue until early evening.”