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WASHINGTON — Today the Senate wasted the rare opportunity to bring about real reform to agriculture programs that benefit the wealthiest American farmers at the expense of the hungry, the poor, and rural America, according to humanitarian group Oxfam America. The Senate failed to support the FRESH Amendment to the Farm Bill, which would have provided long-overdue changes to America’s broken farm subsidy system.
The FRESH or Farm, Ranch, Energy, Stewardship and Health Amendment, introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by Ben Cardin (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Pete Domenici (R-NM), John McCain (R-AZ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jack Reed (D-RI), John Sununu (R-NH), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) would have brought about much-needed reform to US farm policy in a way that would serve more farmers more fairly, according to Oxfam.
“Not only would the FRESH Amendment have been a better deal for American farmers and taxpayers, but it would also have aligned our agricultural policy and our international trade obligations,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. ”Instead, by rejecting the FRESH amendment senators chose to turn their backs on American family farmers and their brethren in poor countries elsewhere who struggle to make a living from the land. By voting to maintain the status quo, the Senate has elected to continue farm programs that fuel overproduction, raise land prices, and lower commodity prices abroad.”
“Instead of helping the truly needy, the Senate has decided to continue to subsidize the truly greedy in rejecting the comprehensive farm bill reform advocated by Senators Lugar and Lautenberg,” said Offenheiser.
“Few options remain in this Farm Bill to provide some reform of a subsidy program that has long outlasted its purpose and utility. If senators aren’t willing to reform farm programs, at least they can reduce the giveaways by supporting limits on the farm subsidies paid. Supporting the Dorgan-Grassley payment limits amendment will be an important first step down that path.”