S 510 Alternative Bill Offered

Just in from the Northeast Organic Farming Association:

In the Senate it’s well understood that the only safe place for proposed legislation to be for a Floor vote is in the “Manager’s Package.” Because there’s already lengthy and considerable bipartisan negotiation and buy-in at the committee level — the resulting Manager’s Package Bill is good to go for an up or down vote on the Floor. Any amendments outside the Manager’s Package have to be brought up separately on the Floor when the Bill is being considered — and are often and quite easily shot down because they don’t have the intrinsic Committee support.

At this point the Tester Amendment, Sen Feinstein’s BPA Amendment and this Coburn amendment lie outside the Manager’s Package and fall into this category.

In the case of S.510 — over the past year working closely with key senators on the governing HELP (Health, Education, Labor, Pensions) Committee —  groups in the sustainable/organic community task force were able to insert a number of farmer-friendly amendments into S.510 — that are now part of the Manager’s Package. Go to the National sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s website for details.

While recognizing that S.510 is by no means perfect — the task force was able to add amendments into the manager’s package that are designed to RESTRICT the regulatory oversight provisions and powers to come onto farms that FDA ALREADY HAS under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. Consumer groups and Big Ag groups were a major player in these negotiations — all leading to HELP Committee buy-in.

The Tester Amendment emerged a little further along in the process with great support from a wide range of farming and grassroots groups. Realizing the vulnerability of being a Floor Amendment, the task force has been working with Senator Tester and the HELP Committee to try and get the Tester amendment into the safe fold of the Manager’s Amendment — but in recent weeks there has been huge push-back from Consumer Groups and Big Ag.

Coming up to the final vote that may happen today many previously supportive senators of the Tester amendment are now wavering because of the massive disinformation campaign from Big Consumer groups (with the notable exception of Food and Water Watch who support Tester).

Thank you,

Steve Gilman
NOFA Policy Coordinator

Editor’s note: You can read the “Manager’s Package” amendment here.