The Farm Bill's approval in the Senate brought headlines in Baltimore's media ' Cardin and Mikulski save Chesapeake Bay cleanup funds from cuts' as they both voted for the farm bill. Here is how the 1% frame a legislative issue to make it sound like a win for the people. The Farm Bill was supposed to be one of the corporate subsidies cut, like oil, in order to help pay down the debt. Rather than cut it, they doubled-down on corporate Agri-business by giving them insurance against any loss of crops by natural disaster. I already addressed the fact that the derivatives market....commodities already does that. What I want to point to here is that of $20 billion in insurance to farmers and meat industry, 80% of that will go to the mega-agri-meat businesses......these global food growers......at the expense of the small farmer. Think Perdue on the Eastern Shore vs a small chicken farmer. You and I are insuring the conglomerates earnings just as we insure the oil industry and financial industry from loses. Small farmers across the country are shouting loudly and strongly that they are being put out of business almost to the point of extinction. Think of the kinds of business growth here in Baltimore....gambling and tourism. I spoke of the minority contractor who couldn't get a job, but that is happening with all small business. All that is being brought to Baltimore, as is true across America are expansions of the same big businesses. THIS IS FOR WHAT BEN CARDIN AND BARBARA MIKULSKI VOTED. YOUR MARYLAND CONGRESS PERSONS WILL AS WELL. IT IS WHY THE SMALL BUSINESS ASSOCIATION IS BEING DEFUNDED.
THIS IS THE 'NEW ECONOMY'. The bigger these businesses get the more unaccountable they become.
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT!!!!
At the same time Barbara and Ben are protecting corporate profits....they work for shareholders not people.... government watchdogs portray the meat and agri-businesses as having returned to the days of 'The Wasteland'. You should read this if you haven't to give yourself a picture of what these industries look like under Third Way Democratic leadership. Sanitation and worker rights and safety are third world. Who works in these industries......the hispanic immigrants that are vilified. It's not illegal to work or hire an undocumented worker, but if the authorities choose at any time to stop and frisk a worker protesting work conditions or trying to unionize.....these undocumented workers are gone. These are extreme human rights violations that Jimmy Carter just shouted loudly and strongly.....MAKE THE UNITED STATES TOP ON THE LIST FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE WORLD. THE LEVEL OF EXPLOITATION FOR MINORITIES IS SO GREAT RIGHT NOW......IS DRIVEN BY THIS FREE-MARKET CORPORATE MENTALITY UNLEASHED BY BILL CLINTON AND EMBRACED BY OBAMA.
So, it doesn't matter that Cardin and Mikulski brought home a little environmental money when they voted for ALL OF THE ABOVE! DID YOU HEAR THEM SHOUT LOUDLY AND STRONGLY? NO!
Undocumented workers are among the most vulnerable and exploited workers in America.
They are often victims of unpaid wages, dangerous conditions and uncompensated workplace injuries, discrimination, and other labor law violations. Undocumented workers who try to stand up for their rights routinely face physical and immigration-related threats and retaliation.
Undocumented workers are among the most vulnerable and exploited workers in our country, as frequent victims of unpaid wages, dangerous conditions and uncompensated workplace injuries, discrimination, and other labor law violations. Workers who attempt to remedy the abuse routinely face physical and immigration-related threats and retaliation. There are an estimated 6.5 million undocumented immigrant workers in the U.S., representing a vital workforce in manufacturing, service, construction, restaurant, and agriculture sectors. Immigrant and non-immigrant communities alike must be informed that all workers—documented or undocumented—are protected under our most basic federal and state employment and labor laws. The most common protections denied undocumented workers include: The right to receive the promised wage and/or at least the minimum wage and overtime pay for work actually performed. The right to healthy and safe conditions on the job. The right to receive workers’ compensation benefits for injuries on the job. The right to be free from discrimination based on sex, color, race, religion, and national origin; age; and disabilities. There is a tremendous need to inform workers and employers of their rights and responsibilities under our employment laws, to provide greater resources for enforcement of such laws, to increase access for workers to the legal system and community organizing, and to adopt immigration policy reforms that will remove the vulnerability of undocumented workers. The current movement of non-profit worker centers across the country—empowering immigrant workers to defend their employment rights and recover their dignity in the workplace—is a vital sign of progress. But it must be complimented with a real commitment from the public and private sector to protect the rights of all workers.
WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE ABOVE IS WHY O'MALLEY AND RAWLINGS-BLAKE EAGERLY RECRUIT HISPANIC WORKERS AND WE KNOW THAT THEY TURN THEIR HEADS TO THE EXPLOITATION. WE ALSO KNOW THAT POOR CITIZENS OF AMERICA ARE HEADING INTO THIS WORLD. THE FARM BILL MAKES THIS EXPLOITATION WORSE BECAUSE BIG BUSINESS CAN ABUSE MORE.
THE IDEA THAT CITIZENS HAVE TO BEG THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO ENFORCE LAWS IS A SIGN OF DECAY!
ENVIRONMENTALISTS LIKE MYSELF WANTED TO SEE BIOFUELS TAKE OFF, BUT AGAIN, THIS INDUSTRY WAS CO-OPTED BY THE VERY PEOPLE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIAL IS SENDING TAXPAYER MONEY AND THE RESULT WAS DEVASTATING TO THE WORLD FOOD DISTRIBUTION. MIKULSKI AND CARDIN KEEP SAYING YES TO THE ENTRENCHED INTERESTS! WHY DO WE KEEP RE-ELECTING THEM? THIS BILL DOESN'T PROMOTE THE GROWTH OF HEALTHY FOODS LIKE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, IT PROMOTES THE GROWTH OF CORN AND SOY.
Farm Bill 2012: Time For An Overhaul With Innovative Farming Systems
First Posted: 05/12/11 08:34 PM ET Updated: 07/12/11 06:12 AM ET
That's the message conveyed in a recent policy paper featured in "Science" magazine. The authors of the paper, entitled "Transforming U.S. Agriculture," argue that although U.S. farms have significantly increased their production yields in recent years, the environment and public health has been sacrificed.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, the lead author, Washington State University professor John Reganold said, "If mainstream, conventional farming systems were sustainable, then we would not have overdrawn aquifers, eroded and degraded soils and polluted surface and ground waters."
"We also have concerns with farm labor working conditions and animal welfare," Reganold added.
With those concerns in mind, some farms have striven to innovate, cultivating practices such as organic farming, conservation agriculture and grass-fed and other alternative livestock production. Some of these practices aren't abstract or new, of course, none are yet widespread.
While a 2010 report by the U.S. National Research Council proposes both incremental and transformative methods to improve agriculture sustainability, the "Science" piece argues that ambitious approaches and systemic changes must be the primary focus, not just crop rotations and reduced tillage.
The most pressing change must be achieved on the policy level. That change can be found in the 2012 Farm Bill, the federal government's primary agricultural and food policy tool.
"Most elements of the Farm Bill were not designed to promote sustainability," the "Science" report read. Subsidies have made our food system too dependent on a few grain crops, such as corn and soybeans, which are ultimately used for over-processed food and animal feed. Such an industrial food system damages the environment, and it also damages human health.
Or, as Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's Elizabeth Kucinich described in her HuffPost blog, "The beneficiaries of agricultural subsidies laid out in this legislation are the corporations that convert crops like corn into corn syrup and soy into feed for the cows and pigs who end up in a McDonald's wrapper."
Reganold and his co-authors suggest the Farm Bill be altered with a reduction in spending on subsidy programs that hide the risks associated with conventional production systems. In other words, we need to stop paying people to damage our land and our health.
Instead, the report's authors suggest the funds go to farming systems that embrace sustainability by protecting the environment, farmers and communities while still providing abundant and affordable food.
Mark Bittman voiced similar sentiments in the New York Times, arguing, "What subsidies need is not the ax, but reform that moves them forward. Imagine support designed to encourage a resurgence of small- and medium-size farms producing not corn syrup and animal-feed but food we can touch, see, buy and eat - like apples and carrots - while diminishing handouts to agribusiness and its political cronies."
The next Farm Bill is designated for 2012. "They're working on it right now," Reaganold warned. "It may be in place this time next year. There's a lot of lobbyists that influence that bill, so if people can contact their senate and congressional leaders, I would recommend it."
Reganold clarified that parts of the Farm Bill are fine, but other aspects, specifically the crop subsidies, need restructuring. "We want that money reallocated to encourage innovative farming systems," he added, "and to encourage sustainability brand products in the marketplace."
"Now is the time ... Once we get to early 2012, it might be too late," he said. "The decision will be already made. So this is the year. This year is the time for people to contact their representatives."
Not everyone believes transformative solutions can or should be achieved. Agriculture giant Cargill, Inc. emailed The Huffington Post stating that global food security "is a central challenge of our times, and conventional agriculture has to be part of the answer." A portion of their statement read:
We recognize there are different approaches and merits to conventional and organic agriculture. However, taking organic to the scale of commercial would require three times the amount of land to feed our rapidly growing world population, which would create its own set of environmental consequences. The Alliance for Food and Farming, a non-profit organization deemed by some independent media and environmental groups to be an "industry front group," wrote in an e-mail to The Huffington Post:
In our experience, these farmers-- both those who farm conventional and organically-grown products--generally do practice sustainable farming methods. One of the problems with the word "sustainable" is there are many definitions which go beyond "certified organic" farming. After detailing ways their farmers engage in positive practices, the organization's statement concluded, "All of these are tenets of sustainable farming and it is a shame that conventional farmers are not being recognized for their significant efforts in this arena."
Reganold acknowledges that the biggest critics of the report will be supporters of conventional agriculture, some from the corporate agri-business and big farms. But, as Reganold explained, "It's not that big farms are bad. Big farms can be good. We have some innovative large farms. But most large mainstream farms are mainly conventional, and those farms could be more sustainable."
Consumers, too, can affect change, most notably by changing their shopping habits. Markets already notice a shift in demand, as more people look for food that considers animal welfare, worker safety and local and organic practices.
"People can vote with their dollars," Reaganold added. "And they can eat a lot better. They can eat whole grain foods and more vegetables, basically a more plant-based diet that puts less of a strain on our agricultural system."
"You can make a difference," he said. "You have an impact."
This is a conservative think tank that writes to undermine the green energy industry. There are many good points made even so. This Green Movement appears to be more about pay-to-play than an organized movement those in the Green movement knows exists! It is easy to go green without all this taxpayer money.
Biomassive Energy Subsidies in Farm Bill
Nicolas Loris June 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm The Heritage Foundation
The farm bill, which passed in the Senate yesterday, has little to do with farming and a lot to do with handouts. Energy subsidies? The farm bill’s full of ‘em, particularly in the Title IX energy section, and they all need to go.
The legislation includes direct handouts and loan guarantees for advanced biofuels and bio-refineries, renewable chemicals, and bio-based product manufacturers. It also reauthorizes the Rural Energy for America Program, which “provides grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. It also provides funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.” In other words, more wasteful green subsidies.
Also included in the bill are the Biomass Research and Development Initiative and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). BCAP is a handout to farmers and ranchers who produce biomass for heat, power, bio-based products, or biofuels. From the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website:
BCAP addresses a classic chicken-or-egg challenge around the start up of commercial scale bioenergy activities. If commercial-scale biomass facilities are to have sufficient feedstocks, then a large-scale energy crop must exist. Conversely, if profitable crop production is to occur, then viable consumers must exist to purchase the crop. Many bioenergy facilities need several years to reach commercial scale. BCAP serves as catalyst to unite these dynamics by reducing the financial risk for landowners who decide to grow unconventional crops for these new markets.
Good economic ideas overcome the chicken-and-egg program all the time without government assistance. It doesn’t matter how many cell phones you have if there’s no place to obtain a signal. But producers built cell phone towers and sold cell phones without a massive subsidy from Washington. The same can happen with biofuels if it’s an economically viable idea.
All of these handouts are wasteful and unnecessary. We have a robust, diverse energy market that can supply consumers with affordable and reliable energy without the taxpayers’ help. The subsidies are also a product of trying to bail out another disastrous policy: the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels (21 billion gallons of that being non-cornstarch) by 2022.
When President Bush signed the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, the law mandated that 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol be produced in the year 2012. Thus far, zero gallons have been produced, because no companies have been able to produce commercially viable cellulosic ethanol. Because of the government’s inability to predict what the market will produce, the government is handing out even more money in a failed attempt to generate a market.
Another program, the Rural Energy Savings Program (Section 6202), provides loans for energy efficiency investments. Businesses do not need public investment to improve efficiency and cut costs; they make those investments regularly with their own money. Technological advancements do often improve efficiency, but those investments should not be subsidized by the taxpayer, much less selected by Washington bureaucrats.
Senator Pat Toomey (R–PA) offered an amendment to repeal the Biorefinery Assistance Program, but the Senate defeated the amendment 33–63. While the farm bill needs much fixing, from an energy standpoint, Congress should repeal all of Title IX from the farm bill as well as the Rural Energy Savings Program.