House appropriators reject GIPSA amendments
In addition to its actions on school meals and potatoes today, the House Appropriations Committee considered a number of amendments.
Reps. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., and Jim Moran, D-Va., offered an amendment to restrict Agriculture Department non-recourse loans for sugar cane or sugar beet processors to operations under $300,000.
Dent, whose district includes the Hershey candy company, said sugar had been the only program in the farm bill that was not reformed.
But several committee members, including Reps. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., Betty McCollum, D-Minn., and Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, all spoke in opposition to the amendment, noting that the issue had been considered in the farm bill passed earlier this year.
Kaptur said sugar producers in her region have to compete with imported sugar from countries that use “sweat labor” and where the workers do not own the land.
Sugar growing, she said, “is part of the fundamental spine” of many states.
The vote on the sugar amendment was 18 in favor and 32 against.
“This was just another attempt by sugar opponents and the big candy companies they represent to harm U.S. sugar farmers, and the committee should be commended for overwhelmingly rejecting this scheme,” said Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, in a news release.
“It’s hard to imagine any agricultural issue that has been voted on as many times as sugar policy in recent years, yet the votes continually show strong support for domestic producers.”
GIPSA provisions — The bill contains a provision to stop the Agriculture Department from enforcing certain provisions of the Packers and Stockyards Act related to poultry. Kaptur offered two amendments to change the provisions, but both went down to defeat.
Horse meat inspection — The committee approved an amendment offered by Moran to ban USDA inspection of horse meat for human consumption.
Chinese chicken ban — House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., accepted an amendment offered by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., to ban the purchase of chicken processed in China in the school lunch program. The federal school lunch program has “Buy America” provisions, but this would affect local school purchasing, DeLauro said.
Vending machine calories — The committee also passed an amendment offered by Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., that would relieve vending machine operators from putting calorie counts for their products on their outside of machines, as would be required under the menu labeling requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
DeLauro spoke bitterly against the amendment, saying the requirement would allow people a chance to see the number of calories in a candy bar or other food item before purchasing, but the amendment passed on a voice vote.
Food stamps for drug felons — The committee rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., for a study of the impact of a provision in the 1996 welfare reform act that bans food stamps for drug felons.
Lee said that the ban unfairly affects people who have served their time and trying to provide for their families.
–The Hagstrom Report