Amendments left in the queue Wednesday were handled today in Senate discussions before passage of the Farm Bill 64 to 35, including two amendments regarding EPA flyovers and an amendment calling for GMO labeling.
Dueling amendments from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) addressed the hot button issue of EPA aerial surveillance on farm operations.
Boxer's sponsored amendment, which would allow flyover EPA surveillance on farm operations, was defeated with a vote of 47-47, with 60 needed to pass.
Johanns' amendment to eliminate EPA flyovers followed Boxer's, but was also defeated with a vote of 56-43.
An amendment proposed by Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Roberts regarding GMO labeling also failed the senate with a vote of 26-73.
The amendment would have permitted states to require that any edible product offered for sale have a label indicating that the item contains a genetically modified ingredient.
Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) praised the efforts of the senate to come together on the farm bill prior to vote.
"I want to thank all my colleagues for supporting this bipartisan effort on this bill," she said. "The men and women who work from sunrise to sunset to give us the bounty of safe, nutritious food that we put on our tables today deserve the certainty of this bill."
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), called the bill not the best possible bill, but "the best bill possible."
Passage Enjoys Industry Support
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he was "pleased" with the Senate's bipartisan spirit in passing the bill.
"I am grateful for the Senate's progress toward providing a reformed safety net for producers in times of need, supporting agricultural research and trade promotion, honoring World Trade Organization commitments, furthering the bio-based economy, conserving our natural resources, strengthening local and regional food systems, and promoting job growth in rural America," Vilsack said.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said the bill was "fiscally responsible" and provides farmers with improved risk management tools. He said that no farm bill is perfect, but the bill passed today by the senate is "solid."
"There is still a lot of hard work ahead to fully secure the kind of policy we believe our farm and ranch families need, but we applaud the Senate for approving a workable bill and moving this process forward," Stallman said. "The Senate has provided us solid footing by approving a bill that stands firm on $23 billion in savings, yet protects and strengthens the federal crop insurance program and provides a commodity title that attempts to encourage producers to follow market signals rather than make planting decisions in anticipation of government payments."
Stallman said moving ahead into the House version of the bill will be critical for farmers as they begin thinking about next year's cropping decisions.
National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer also congratulated the senate on the passage of the bill, and joined Stallman in expressing the need for Farm Bill movement in the house.
"Our focus now turns to the House Agriculture Committee with hopes that they will schedule a markup of their version of the farm bill for immediately following the July 4th recess," Niemeyer said. "We look forward to continuing our work with agriculture advocates to pass a new common sense, reformed 2012 farm bill before Congress recesses in August."