Senate-Passed Farm Bill Misses the Mark on Improving Food System
Today, the U.S. Senate passed a farm bill that left the largest agribusiness and food processing companies firmly in control of America’s food system. The giant companies that buy crops and livestock and manufacture processed food, and grocery stores that sell to consumers, remain firmly in the driver's seat under the Senate farm bill.
There has been a complete lack of Senate leadership on the continued consolidation of the entire food and farm sector, which harms farmers and consumers. The few amendments that were offered to improve livestock markets –– Senator Grassley’s packer-ban and Senator Enzi’s livestock market reform amendment –– did not make the list for floor consideration.
The nearly two-year farm bill process was shrouded in secrecy and rarely saw the sunlight of public participation. The legislation, based on last-year's confidential proposal to the deficit reduction super-committee, received scant scrutiny by the Agriculture Committee and the public. The nearly trillion-dollar legislation was finalized after only three hours of Committee consideration –– about $90 million a second.
One of the rare bright spots in the Senate debate came when the Senate considered an amendment to allow states to require labeling of genetically engineered foods. Consumers overwhelmingly support the right to know whether their food contains genetically engineered ingredients. Although Senator Sanders’ amendment did not prevail, the Senate’s consideration of GE labeling is long overdue.