(NaturalNews) Every five years the Farm Bill is reviewed by Congress to decide how government funding should be allocated to different aspects of agriculture. Depending on what source you explore, there are mixed signals emanating from the Senate's 2012 Farm Bill proposal.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the Senate proposal endangers environmental issues around farming. Direct payments to large farms have been cut. Instead, an insurance subsidy program offers more assistance to Big Ag's insurance costs and the insurance industry. This is back-door corporate welfare.
The EWG praises Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chairwoman for the Senate Committee drawing up the 2012 Farm Bill for not allowing the new bill to be worse than it is. But they think that the trade off for Big Ag's insurance assistance should be more environmental demands and regulations for those who benefit most.
Ronnie Cummins' Organic Consumers Association sees some good with the bad. He points to the good with the amendment by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) to cut farm subsidies for anyone with an average income over $1 million. It was approved by a Senate vote of 84-15.
But Cummins warns that the Big Ag Lobby of Monsanto, Cargill and others wants to keep Congress from debating the bill so they can hijack it. There is the possibility for such a quick ending by going straight to a Senate super-committee assigned with the task of cutting government spending.
According to Fred Hoefner, policy director of the Washington-based National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, hard won funding programs that encourage non-organic farmers to make the transition to organic farming are on the chopping block.
Another group points out how the funding that assists small organic farming is miniscule compared to funds benefiting Big Ag. Yet that small amount is under scrutiny as well.
The financial super-committee may be the final arbitrator for whatever has been proposed so far. This committee has the task of reducing spending by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
Farm Bill recommendations must be submitted to the super-committee by October 14th. Then the committee has until November 23rd to come up with a deficit reduction plan, which has to be voted on by December 23rd.
If Big Ag gets its way completely, local and organic farming in general is at risk. It's a good idea to look into communicating directly with your senators and congressional representatives in an effort to prevent the worst from happening, or use this link to voice your concern (http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/farm_bill_ewg/).
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