Our indefatigable Farm Bill-blogging friends at the Center for Rural Affairs have contributed this post.
Advocates for farm bill reform have worked for well over a year in an effort to secure meaningful payment limits on farm program subsides. On Thursday we lost a vote in the U.S. Senate on the Dorgan-Grassley payment limits amendment, despite garnering 56 votes. (Find out how your senator voted here.) The leadership had previously consented to an agreement that required all reform amendments to obtain a super-majority of 60 votes to pass. Here's a round-up of responses to yesterday's vote:
Senate Rigs Rules to Kill Farm Bill Reform: "The Senate voted this morning to drive a stake in the heart of farm bill reform and to continue current federal farm subsidies largely unchanged... Family farmers in the US, impoverished families abroad who are dependent upon agriculture to survive, and American taxpayers who foot the bill for unnecessary US farm subsidies will ultimately pay the price." (Oxfam America)
56 Votes for Dorgan-Grassley — We Lost: "In arranging the defeat of these two amendments, Democrats not only kept subsidies flowing unfettered to giant farms. They also prevented the savings these amendments would have generated from being invested in food stamps, conservation, organic agriculture and other chronically underfunded programs. We will be providing detailed responses to this pathetic performance in days, months, and years ahead." (Environmental Working Group)
Farm State Senators Vote Against Family Farmers: "The vote demonstrates that Southerners are not the primary obstacle to a farm policy that strengthens America's rural communities. The responsibility for killing reform lies with a small handful of Northern Plains and Midwestern Senators who sided with selfish interests over the good of the overwhelming majority of farmers and rural people." (Center for Rural Affairs)
Senate Leadership Puts Special Interests First: "The withdrawal of this modest move towards reform is a stunning display of political gamesmanship. It is time for a farm and food policy that ensures nutrition assistance to struggling families in this country, a more level playing field for all farmers and real investments in rural development. People of faith and public interest groups from across the political spectrum sent a clear message to Congress this year that this is the time for reform of the outdated commodity payment system." (Bread for the World)
Opponents Thwart the Will of the Senate: "The vote on Dorgan-Grassley was the last chance for reform in the new farm bill, as the House already approved its bill without reform. Sadly, the result means the US taxpayer will continue to be forced to bankroll mega farms to outbid family farms and new young farmers for land, leading to the subsidized, slow demise of family farming in this country." (Sustainable Agriculture Coalition)
Senate Squanders Farm Policy Reform Opportunity: "The farm bill passed by the Senate will continue to allow millionaires to collect unlimited farm subsidies while leaving conservation programs and other critical programs underfunded. Instead of reducing farm subsidies, the Senate farm bill actually increases them by hiking support levels for some crops, adding new crops to the subsidy roll, and creating a new $5.1 billion permanent disaster program." (Environmental Defense)