Dear PCRM Legislative Focus supporter,
This summer, Congress has been focused on passing the Farm Bill, a massive, multiyear piece of legislation that authorizes all farming, conservation, and nutrition programs. The Farm Bill is a $500 billion piece of legislation that has a huge impact on the nation’s food supply. Its commodity programs create incentives for farmers to grow certain foods, while its nutrition programs decides which foods to feed to our children through the National School Lunch Program and low-income families through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
PCRM has been working to incorporate our “Healthy Basics” plan into the Farm Bill, and we will keep you apprised of our efforts, but in the meantime, I wanted to share with you a few developments.
I know you have been following our campaign against the government’s spending of billions of taxpayer dollars on agricultural subsidies that support production of unhealthy meat and dairy products. We have been sharing our report on Capitol Hill that demonstrates how the farm subsidy system overwhelmingly favors meat and dairy production, and it appears that someone has been listening. The Farm Bill has not been finalized—it is at different stages in the legislative process in the House and the Senate—but here is what we know so far:
- The House and Senate Farm Bills both eliminate the most wasteful form of subsidy—direct payments. So congratulations! In the world of politics, however, there is no such thing as a clean victory. While the Farm Bill has eliminated these subsidies, they have shifted much of the funds toward other programs—new forms of crop insurance—that continue to prop up the meat and dairy industries. Please send your member of Congress an e-mail, urging support for H.R. 6098, the Crop Insurance Subsidy Reduction Act, which will reduce taxpayer subsidies for crop insurance.
- The House Agriculture Committee passed an amendment offered by Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) that authorizes $5 million to “provide incentives for consumption of fruits and vegetables among low-income individuals.” We have a different proposal to help low-income families eat more healthfully. Further, $5 million is only a fraction of what the SNAP program costs ($78 billion in 2011), but in this Congress, any increase in funding to support healthy eating is a development worth noting.
- Lastly and perhaps most urgently, the Agriculture Committee also passed a dangerous amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that would “prohibit any state or local government” from “impos[ing] a standard or condition on the production or manufacture of any agricultural product sold or offered for sale in interstate commerce.” What this means is that a state cannot pass its own laws regarding farming practices (factory farming), food safety (antibiotics overuse), or food usage (California’s foie gras ban). In addition to our concerns regarding this amendment’s impact on our efforts to create healthier school lunches and SNAP choices, this amendment clearly oversteps the bounds of the U.S. Constitution. Please ask your U.S. Representative to strip the King amendment from the Farm Bill today. This one could have far-reaching consequences, and we desperately need your support.
At this time, the Farm Bill is in limbo. The Senate has passed their version, but the House won’t vote on it. Meanwhile, the version that came out of the House Agriculture Committee is being criticized from both the right and the left. It is impossible to predict how this will play out, so all of the developments listed above are still tentative. As always, we promise to keep you updated on these and all our other campaigns, which you can read about below. Thanks you for all that you do.
Director of Government and Public Affairs
Major Progress for Animals and Troops
Our efforts to convince the
Department of Defense to improve its medical training and stop using live
animals for military medical training is picking up steam. As a reminder, more
than 7,500 goats and pigs are used—and killed—every year in these courses,
some of them in particularly gruesome ways. In some courses, the animals are
shot in the face or have their legs cut off with tree trimmers—while trainees
are instructed to simply keep them alive as long as possible.
Using animals in this way is not
only cruel but also bad training. Can you imagine learning how to perform an
emergency airway on a goat and then having to save a soldier’s life with that
training? 98 percent of civilian trauma training courses have switched to using only
superior medical simulation, and it is time for the Department of Defense to do
Following the momentum in the
House of Representatives, now the Senate is taking action. Senator Ron Wyden
(D-Ore.) has introduced a Senate companion bill.
We need you to urge your senators to support the bill,
so we can pass it before the end of the year. Please call your senators today and urge them co-sponsor S. 3814, the
BEST Practices Act.
Making History for Chimpanzees–Sign our Petition!
When the 112th Congress began last January, we
made a decision to make passage of the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings
Act our top legislative priority. After amassing more than 165 co-sponsors in the
last Congress, it felt like this bill’s
time had come. The bill is based on
science and ethics, but it would also save American taxpayers around $25
million a year—a crucial element to getting a bill
passed in this political climate.
We are seeing some definite progress. In April, the Senate
Committee on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) held a hearing on the bill. In fact, Dr. Martin Wasserman, a member of
PCRM’s Physician Steering Committee, was one of the key witnesses. And last
month, the bill was officially reported
favorably out of that committee, and it is currently awaiting action on the
When working on this issue, it’s important to remind
ourselves that there are individual humans and chimpanzees whose lives are at
stake here—people and animals who feel and suffer. Last month, I toured the
BIOQUAL laboratory in Rockville,
Md., which held 15 young
chimpanzees recently used in experiments. While the NIH continues to waste $25
million per year warehousing chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories, necessary and
effective research goes unfunded.
Now that their experiments are finished, BIOQUAL is shipping
these youngsters to New Iberia, a research lab
that has been cited numerous times for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
At New Iberia, the “Rockville 15” will be housed in cages for as
long as chimpanzee experimentation is legal. With the scientific community
saying we don’t need to use chimpanzees, there is no reason why New Iberia should keep
them. They should be retired now.
this petition to NIH Director Francis Collins that asks him to free the
While we are working to end chimpanzee experimentation for all, these 15 need
our help today. When you have signed, please share it with your friends on
Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere!
PCRM Announces 112th Congress Scorecard
At the end of the 112th Congress, PCRM will be issuing
its 112th Congress Legislative Scorecard, in which we compile votes
and co-sponsorship of bills that accurately represent PCRM’s mission. We will
score bills on nutrition, research, and education in the hopes of holding
Congress accountable for the thousands of calls and e-mails sent by PCRM
How do you get a copy of the scorecard? According to our reading of IRS rules, we
can only distribute the scorecard to members
who have contributed at least $20 to PCRM in the last year (from when it goes
out). To make sure you will be eligible to receive the scorecard, please
make a contribution today, and then look for the scorecard
GET ACTIVE WITH PCRM LEGISLATIVE FOCUS!
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