Mar 082017
 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, has changed the lives of many previously uninsured Americans who can now find affordable healthcare, either as a result of the programs being offered through the government-run marketplace, or through private insurance plans. The ACA provides income-based premium subsidies to those who purchase their own insurance through the marketplace. The groups who benefit the most from the ACA are those who were previously discriminated against and the most vulnerable of society including low-income families and seniors. At least 20 million more Americans now have health insurance than before passage of Obamacare. Criticisms of the ACA include rising costs for young males, higher numbers of uninsured in states that did not expand Medicare, and increased cost for those who lost their health care benefits from insurers not in compliance with the ACA standards.

Pending legislation: S.191 – Patient Freedom Act of 2017

 Posted by at 8:49 am
Mar 082017
 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, has changed the lives of many previously uninsured Americans who can now find affordable healthcare, either as a result of the programs being offered through the government-run marketplace, or through private insurance plans. The ACA provides income-based premium subsidies to those who purchase their own insurance through the marketplace. The groups who benefit the most from the ACA are those who were previously discriminated against and the most vulnerable of society including low-income families and seniors. At least 20 million more Americans now have health insurance than before passage of Obamacare. Criticisms of the ACA include rising costs for young males, higher numbers of uninsured in states that did not expand Medicare, and increased cost for those who lost their health care benefits from insurers not in compliance with the ACA standards.

Pending legislation: S.191 – Patient Freedom Act of 2017

 Posted by at 8:48 am
Mar 312015
 

Sexual assault, a longtime problem on college and university campuses, has recently become a national issue. Advocates say schools, fearing negative publicity, are not proactive in investigating or prosecuting those responsible for these violent crimes, the vast number of which are not reported to authorities. A recent survey of 440 colleges showed that many schools ignore provisions of Title IX, which requires them to prevent and investigate sexual assaults, and the 1990 Clery Act, which orders colleges to report violent incidents to authorities. Estimates have put the occurrence of campus rape at about one of every five women during their college career. This estimate corroborates a recent finding that 19% of all American women have been raped during their lifetimes. Some advocates say campus rape is so prevalent that schools which do not report this problem are likely avoiding efforts to address it.

A 2012 study found that 55% of 1,570 colleges and universities with 1,000 or more students received at least one report of a forcible sex offense on campus, including forcible rape, forcible sodomy, forcible fondling and sexual assault with an object. In 2012, there were at least 3,900 reports of forcible sex offenses on campuses nationwide. Of the undergraduate women who are sexually assaulted in college, 34% are physically forced, 57% are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and 4% are given drugs without their knowledge. Only about 12% of all campus rapes are reported to authorities and only 1% of all assailants are ever disciplined by the school. Even so, about 78% of college presidents polled in one survey disagreed that sexual assault was prevalent on their campus, and 75% of presidents believed their institutions were doing a good job protecting women from sexual assault.

Advocates say the first point of contact is crucial for women who have been sexually assaulted. Some schools require victim advisors to publically report rape cases brought to their attention, which may discourage students from seeking help. Others assign a confidential adviser, who explains the reporting process while ensuring services are made available for her. This approach has helped increase the number of victims who decide to report their abuse to the police. Advocates say colleges need to provide safe and supportive environments where students feel comfortable reporting these crimes.

Pending Legislation:
S.706 – SOS Campus Act
H.R.1310 – Campus Accountability and Safety Act

 Posted by at 2:10 am
Jan 152015
 

Dairy farming is the primary agricultural business in states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Vermont and New Hampshire, among others. More than 51,000 dairy farms provide milk, cheese and yogurt to our people as well as those in other countries. About 97% of all dairy farms are family owned, and about 75% of these farms have fewer than 100 cows. Even so, large farming concerns with more than 100 cows produce 85% of our milk. Many of these small and medium-sized family dairy operations are currently experiencing economic hardship. The reasons for this are the increasing costs of producing milk, including feed and transportation, and the low price paid to farmers for the raw milk they send to market. Some say the supply of milk has outpaced its demand. These conditions leave slim margins for dairy farmers and it is estimated they receive only about 30 cents of every retail dollar spent on milk. Dairy farmers are mostly happy with the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the farm bill, which addressed many of their concerns. This bill retains the basics of the former Dairy Price Support Program, which takes into account the selling price of milk and the cost of feeding livestock, as the measure by which support for dairy farms is calculated. The bill also allows dairy farmers to purchase margin protection insurance depending on how much protection they need and the amount of milk they produce, with lower premiums for smaller producers.

Pending Legislation:

S.605 – Dairy Income Fairness Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current dairy farm policy and wish to defeat S.605

I support establishing a dairy production margin protection program under which participating dairy operations are paid basic production margin protection program payments when production margins are less than threshold levels; and supplemental production margin protection program payments if purchased by a participating dairy operation, and wish to pass S.605

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Escapes are common when hundreds of thousands of tilapia, catfish, sea bass, steelhead, carp and salmon are held in open pens, farms and ponds. Storms, equipment malfunctions and predators cause significant releases of these farmed fish. In 2008, the U.S. market for farmed salmon, aquaculture’s principal product, was an estimated $45 million. Most of these salmon have been genetically-modified for commercial purposes and biologists are worried about the effects these altered fish will have on wild populations. In 1997, at least 350,000 farmed salmon escaped from aquafarms on the West Coast and many were later found thousands of miles away. Farmed fish that have been genetically modified or selectively bred are more aggressive, grow faster, have smaller fins and larger bodies. When they escape and interbreed frequently enough with wild salmon populations, the genetic make up of these wild stocks are altered and this can lead to a loss of fitness, productivity, diversity and the eventual extinction of some populations. Farmed salmon can also transmit infections and parasites to wild salmon.

Pending Legislation:

S.246 & H.R 1667 – Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States Act

I oppose reforming current Aquaculture escape policy and wish to defeat S.246 & H.R.1667

I support prohibiting the sale of genetically modified salmon by prohibiting a person from: shipping, transporting, offering for sale, selling, or purchasing a genetically modified fish, or a food product containing such fish, in interstate commerce; having custody, control, or possession of, with the intent to ship, transport, offer for sale, sell, or purchase such fish or food products, in interstate or foreign commerce; engaging in net-pen aquaculture of such fish; releasing such fish into a natural environment; or having custody, control, or possession of such fish with the intent to release it into a natural environment, and wish to pass S.246 & H.R.1667

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

There are now nearly 2 million American farms, 80% of which are small farms that are mostly family owned. An increasing number of these farmers are selling their products directly to the public through local food markets such as farmers markets, farm stands, food cooperatives and Community Support Agriculture programs. There are now nearly 8,000 farmers markets throughout the U.S. and our Agriculture Department estimates that local food sales now account for at least $5 billion annually. Local and regional agriculture has become a major economic driver in the farm economy, benefitting many small of our farmers. Consumers, including school districts, may now purchase fresh, organically-grown produce at reasonable cost. Supporters promote the fact that fruits and vegetables sold within 24 hours of being harvested are fresher, more nutritious and taste better than produce which has been shipped from distant locations.

Pending Legislation:

S.679 & H.R.1414 – Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current local farm policy and wish to defeat S.679 & H.R.1414

I support assisting consumers by improving access to healthy food and direct retail markets; improving SNAP (food stamp) participant access to farmers markets, providing more secure funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expanding new farming opportunities, and wish to pass S.679 & H.R.1414

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Factory aquaculture is a rapidly growing industry that produces most of the seafood products we eat. Most of the shrimp, shellfish, trout and salmon currently consumed by Americans are raised either in large enclosed pens or land-based fish farms. Both of these systems often discharge large amounts of nutrients, chemicals and waste into our local waterways. These discharges may cause algal blooms which reduce oxygen in the water and kill marine life. Opponents of large fish farming operations warn of significant damage to coastal environments from large volumes of wastewater that is constantly released from these operations. It has been estimated that a farm with 20,000 salmon creates more waste than a city of 60,000 people.

Pending Legislation:

S.1254 – Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current aquaculture waste policy and wish to defeat S.1254

I support developing a national strategy to monitor, predict, prevent, control, mitigate, and respond to marine and freshwater harmful algal blooms and hypoxia events, and wish to pass S.1254

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

There are currently about 2 million farms in our country. Less than 1 in 4 of these farms produce gross revenues in excess of $50,000. About 87% of all farms are owned and operated by individuals and families, while 8% are partnerships, and 4% are corporate farms. The term “family farm” does not necessarily equate with a small farm, nor does a “corporate farm” necessarily mean a large-scale operation owned and operated by a multinational corporation. Many of our country’s largest agricultural enterprises are family owned. Small farms are considered those with annual sales less than $250,000. Despite the predominance of these small farms, there is strong evidence of a trend toward concentration in our nation’s agricultural production. In 2007, fewer than 190,000 farms accounted for 63% of all agricultural product sales. Our most recent census showed a 4% increase in new farms, the first such increase since 1920. Most of this increase is attributed to young, educated Americans entering the farming occupation.

Pending Legislations:

S.837 & H.R.1727 – Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current small farm policy and wish to defeat S.837 & H.R.1727

I support reducing the number of operating years required for a beginning farmer or rancher to qualify for a direct real estate loan; extending conservation loan and loan guarantee authority, and reserve specified amounts for beginning farmers and ranchers; extending the beginning farmer and rancher individual development accounts pilot program; authorizing micro loans for beginning farmers or ranchers; making the direct operating loan set-aside for beginning farmers and ranchers permanent, and wish to pass S.837 & H.R.1727

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

For each of the past 30 years, our aquaculture industry has grown at an 8% rate. It is anticipated that by 2018, we will consume more farmed fish than wild fish. Some types of fish such as catfish and tilapia can be raised in aquafarms on grain-based, soybean-meal diets. However, most farmed fish are carnivorous and need to be fed large amounts of fishmeal or fish-oil pellets, both of which are produced from wild fish. It is estimated that 4 pounds of wild fish are needed to produce a single pound of farmed fish. Worldwide, one of every three fish that is caught is processed into fishmeal or fish oil used in aquaculture or agricultural fertilizers. As the aquaculture industry grows, so does the need for anchovies, sardines, herring and other whitebait fish. Aquaculture supporters claim their industry helps satisfy consumer demand for some seafood species, thereby protecting their wild counterparts. Opponents say aquafarming puts great pressure on the food supply upon which this industry and many species depend. Environmentalists claim our aquaculture industry’s methods are not sustainable for themselves, wild fish food stocks, or wild species that prey upon these stocks including birds, mammals and other fish.

Pending Legislations: None

I oppose reforming current salmon toxicity policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill requiring the EPA to uniformly regulate the PCB levels in farmed salmon and wild salmon

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Dioxins are a notorious carcinogen that enters the environment by the burning of chlorinated compounds such as plastics and industrial waste. Wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, diesel engines and chlorine bleaching used in paper production are also sources of dioxin emissions. Human ingestion occurs when breathing incinerated airborne particles or when consuming plants or water upon which these particles have settled. Eating dairy products from animals that have fed on dioxin-contaminated plants, or consuming the animal itself will also impart this carcinogen to us. Once ingested, dioxins are stored forever in the fatty tissue of animals, accumulating as they progress up the food chain. Health advocates say trace amounts of these synthesized chemicals are now found in every newborn child worldwide. Scientists and the EPA have long suspected that dangers may be associated with dioxide emissions. In 2012, after a 27-year wait, the EPA finally released a portion of its health review of dioxins, intended to form the basics for dioxin regulation. This portion did not address the complicity that dioxins may have in causing cancer. The completion and release of this study had been fought by the chemical and food industries because it could trigger a slew of stringent environmental policies which would tighten standards on Superfund cleanup sites, waste water treatment, air emissions and food safety. It would also likely lead to significant litigation. In its report, EPA officials said “Today, most Americans have only low-level exposure to dioxins.” It claims industry dioxin emissions have declined more than 90% since 1987 and that most people are now safe. It also said “Findings show that generally, over a person’s lifetime, current exposure to dioxins does not pose a significant health risk.” However, critics say the agency’s claim about people in general not being at risk could be misleading because people vary in sensitivity and amount of exposure. The say that traces of dioxins will remain in our food supply years or even decades after they are emitted. Although the EPA has previously acknowledged that dioxins cause cancer, it has yet to release of the other half of its dioxins report, which analyzes the evidence of dioxin carcinogenicity.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current dioxin policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to require the EPA to complete and release its dioxin carcinogenicity assessment within a reasonable period of time

 Posted by at 12:00 am