THE Senate began consideration of its farm bill. Unlike last year, when cloture votes and holds on votes limited farm bill debate to just a few days, senators spent last week making floor statements on amendments while voting on just 12 of the nearly 200 filed so far.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) appears to want to tackle the majority of amendments advanced by the Senate Agriculture Committee when the Senate returns from its Memorial Day recess June 3 and to wrap up the bill as early as the first week of June.
Here's a snapshot of amendments:
Livestock. Amendment 1011 introduced by Sens. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) and Joe Donnelly (D., Ind.) protects livestock producers' information by prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from further releasing the private information to the public.
Amendment 969 introduced by Grassley and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) establishes a special counsel on agricultural competition to coordinate and oversee competition and antitrust enforcement activities among federal agencies.
Amendment 971 from Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.) requires the agriculture secretary to collect and report information on agriculture consolidation.
Amendment 982 by Sens. Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.), Tim Johnson (D., S.D.) and Tester prohibits the use of un-priced formula contracts and "requires all marketing arrangements to use firm, fixed-base prices for marketing arrangements to ensure that cattle producers are fairly paid for their livestock," according to 34 farm groups that support it.
Trade. Amendment 1007 from Sens. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) and John McCain (R., Ariz.) reduces funding for the Market Access Program by 20%.
Biotechnology. An amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) giving states the right to label genetically modified (GM) foods was voted down.
Amendment 978 by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) strikes the Farmer Assurance Provisions, which codify the agriculture secretary's ability to let science, not the courts, dictate whether new biotech crops can be planted.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Cal.) introduced both amendment 1025, which would express the sense of the Senate in support of labeling GM organisms, and amendment 1026, which would require a report on the methods of labeling GM foods and the impacts of having different state labeling laws in the absence of a federal labeling standard.
Sen. Mark Begich (D., Alaska) introduced 934 to prohibit the sale of genetically altered salmon in the U.S. unless raised in land-based, confined facilities.
Marketing. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) introduced amendment 1083 that makes participation in national checkoffs and promotion boards voluntary. Commodity groups oppose the bill because support for checkoffs remains high.
Energy. Amendment 966 by Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) increases mandatory funding for the energy title from $900 million in the committee bill to $1.3 billion.
Amendment 955 by McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) prohibits the U.S. Department of Agriculture from funding flex-fuel pump installations.
Amendment 961 by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) allows states to opt out of the renewable fuel standard (RFS).
Amendment 966 by Sens. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) amends the RFS to lower requirements for advanced biofuels in accordance with those for cellulosic ethanol.