What critics have been referring to as the Monsanto Protection Act is actually not new according to Agricultural Retailers Association Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Counsel Richard Gupton.
The Farmer Assurance Provision included in the continuing budget resolution that has garnered a great deal of attention from activists codifies existing USDA practices and elements of a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that lower courts should not automatically prohibit the planting of biotech crop varieties or the harvest and sale of biotech crops already planted when their commercial approval is revoked for procedural reasons.
Gupton says the language included in the CR provides some predictability and assurance to farmers who plant biotech crops that have been deregulated by USDA but are subject to litigation by anti-biotech activists. He says this language was actually included in the House Agriculture Appropriations bill during the 112th Congress and has therefore been in the public domain for a number of months.
Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Gregory Conko has also weighed in on the attempts of activists to stir up consumers who aren’t knowledgeable about agriculture or the production of biotech crops.
Conko says the rider does not give USDA any new authority. He says it simply codifies existing case law and agency practice. In addition, Conko says the rider wasn’t slipped into the continuing resolution surreptitiously.
Given how abusive National Environmental Policy Act litigation has become and how disruptive the rulings are to farmers and the American food chain, Conko says enacting the Farmer Assurance Provision is the very least Congress should do to protect American agriculture.