Making Democracy Work

League Study and Action

League Study and Action

The League of Women Voters takes action only after the membership has identified an issue for study, has formally studied the issue, and has come to a consensus or member agreement on the issue under consideration. The consensus report is published as the League position and is the basis for League action. Such positions are the result of studies at the local, state, or national level.

You can find more information on our process of determining our positions here.

Missouri Transportation Funding

In August 2016, the LWV of Metro St. Louis board voted to send a letter to elected officials asking them to lodge a civil rights complaint with the Department of Justice against the MO Department of Transportation. In support of the civil rights complaint is the report, Back of the Bus: How Missouri's Spending on Transportation Penalizes Cities and Suburbs. Back of the Bus Report

The LWVMetro STL Transportation Committee

Reference Articles and Materials on the current state of funding of the Missouri Transportation.

February ILR Transportation Article

Variability in Gas Prices

Public Forum Proposal

To join the LWV Metro STL Transportation Committee contact Gwen Moore, LWV Metro STL Transportation Committee or call the League Office 314-961-6869 for more information!

Additional research from our Chair, Gwen Moore can be found at

The committee is planning a Meeting to discuss the Transportation Funding Issues with other Groups at the end of April, in preparation to a Public Forum that will be hosted to educate the Public and Communities on the problems of the current method for Funding Missouri's transportation.

Join a discussion on a proposed Alliance for Better Missouri Transportation to work together to educate the public, to be able to provide funding to create safe bridges and roads in Missouri and support Public Transportation.

Come and learn how we can work together for a Better Missouri Transportation!

Money in Politics Study

The LWVUS Money in Politics Review and Study is conducting an update of the League's position on campaign finance for the purpose of addressing the lack of member understanding and agreement as to whether financing a political campaign is protected speech under the First Amendment. The campaign finance position will be updated through a study and consensus process to consider: (1) the rights of individuals and organizations, under the First Amendment, to express their political views through independent expenditures and the finance of election campaign activities; and (2) how those rights, if any, should be protected and reconciled with the interests set out in the current position.

Visit the LWVUS web page for reading materials and further details at the Money in Politics review <+>. LWV Metro St Louis will include summaries of materials in the ILR, and will have an educational program in October.

Information for Money in Politics

Campaign Finance Links and Resources

The 30 Second Candidate - PBS Democracy Project. Look inside the world of political advertising.

Project Vote-Smart - A non-partisan, non-profit voter information center that provides addresses, campaign finance and voting records on candidates and elected officials, including President, Congress, Governors, and State Legislators. Find your representatives when you enter your address.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE Brooking Institute - The special focus of their site is campaign finance law and administration. It provides background information on current law and regulations, tracks legal developments in court cases and administrative decisions, and reports on proposed new legislation and other reform proposals.

Common Cause - A nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen's lobbying organization.

Federal Election Commission - The Commission maintains databases on political contributions to candidates, 527s, political action committees, and up to date information on federal election law and violations of the law.

Institute on Money in State Politics - IMSP provides searchable databases of campaign finance on the state level. It analyzes the information to determine the role campaign money plays in public policy debates in the states.

National Voting Rights Institute - A leading legal center in the campaign finance reform field. Using litigation and public education, the Institute aims to redefine the issue of private money in public elections as the nation's newest voting rights barrier. - The Center for Responsive Politics website that tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy. Political Moneyline - Find out who's giving money to whom. Detailed federal campaign finance data by candidate, political action committee, contributor name or occupation, and other variables.

Public Campaign - A non-profit, non-partisan organization that helps citizen groups around the country who are working for campaign finance reform in their states.

CIVIL LIBERTIES Bill of Rights Defense Committee - A national organization that encourages communities to take an active role in an ongoing national debate about anti-terrorism measures that threaten civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Their website provides information about proposed anti-terrorism legislation and anti-terror cases with civil liberties implications in the courts. Contains links to many articles covering: threats to civil liberties; grassroots movements; college issues; articles and information on legislation aimed at protecting civil liberties and articles and information on introduced legislation that may threaten civil liberties.

Center for Democracy and Technology - Works to promote constitutional liberties in the digital age. Concerns include free speech, government surveillance and data privacy. - Provides relevant and up-to-the minute civil rights news and information and contains searchable archives of news features and background information.

First Amendment Center - Offers general information on First Amendment issues; news and information on how the courts understand and apply the First Amendment in various types of situations. Research materials are organized by topic under the five freedoms of the First Amendment: speech, press, religious liberty, assembly and petition.

LWVUS Campaign Finance Position from Impact on Issues

The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the methods of financing political campaigns should ensure the public's right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process (position statement announced by National Board January 1974 and revised March 1982). This position is applicable to all federal campaigns for public office -- presidential and congressional, primaries as well as general elections. It also may be applied to state and local campaigns.

Campaign Finance The League's History After the 1972 Convention approved "further study of Congress," the 1973 Council--spurred by spending abuses in congressional and presidential campaigns-- focused on campaign finance. Accelerated study and agreement in 1973 led to the Campaign Finance position, which applied League Principles supporting an open and representative government to political campaigns. The League initiated a petition drive and lobbied intensively for the campaign reforms embodied in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974 (FECA). When the law was challenged in court, the League, together with other organizations, intervened as defendants. In 1976, the Supreme Court upheld portions of the law providing for disclosure, public financing and contribution limits, but it overturned limits on candidates' spending, if they used private financing, and limits on independent expenditures. The Court also ruled that the method of selection of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was unconstitutional, because it allowed Congress to encroach on the President's appointment power. After the Court's decision, the League successfully lobbied for a new law creating an independent and constitutionally acceptable FEC. In response to budget attacks on the FEC in the 104th Congress, the League testified and lobbied in support of the FEC's Fiscal Year 1997 budget request and against efforts to undermine the agency's core enforcement and disclosure programs through funding cuts. The League's position on Campaign Finance reflects continuing concern for open and honest elections and for maximum citizen participation in the political process. The League's campaign finance reform strategy has two tracks: 1) achieve incremental reforms where possible in the short term, and 2) build support for public financing as the best long-term solution. Although provided under current law for presidential elections, public funding of congressional elections, which the League supports, has been an elusive goal. Current law does embody other League goals: full and timely disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures; one central committee to coordinate, control and report financial transactions for each candidate, party or other committee; an independent body to monitor and enforce the law; and the encouragement of broad-based contributions from citizens. The League continues to look for ways to limit the size and type of contributions from all sources as a means of combating undue influence in the election process. League action on this issue is built on a careful assessment of all proposed changes in campaign financing law. The League continues to assess proposals to equalize government services for challengers and incumbents so that candidates can compete more equitably. The League favors shortening the time period between primaries and general elections. In 1989-1992, the League fought for comprehensive campaign finance reform to address the abuses in the existing system, supporting bills that curbed special interest contributions and provided public financing for candidates who accepted voluntary spending limits. The League called for limits to PAC and large contributor donations, for closing the soft-money loophole and for public benefits for candidates, such as reduced postage and reduced broadcasting costs. Both houses of Congress enacted reform bills in 1990, but a conference committee was unable to resolve the differences before adjournment of the 101st Congress. Both houses passed strong reform measures in 1992, and the bill that emerged from the conference committee promised the most far-reaching campaign finance reform since Watergate. The President vetoed the bill, and an attempt to override was unsuccessful. In 1991-1992, the League defended the system of public financing for presidential candidates through check-offs on income tax forms. Faced with an impending shortfall in the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, the League countered with an attack on many fronts: an appeal to taxpayers and preparers to use the check-off; testimony before the House Elections Subcommittee to increase the check-off from $1 to $3, with indexing for inflation; opposition to IRS regulations that would weaken the system; support for a House bill guaranteeing matching funds for qualified presidential primary candidates and participation in an amicus curiae challenging, unsuccessfully, Treasury Department regulations that subvert the language and congressional intent of the presidential public financing system. In 1993, the presidential check-off was increased to $3.00, with support from the League, assuring continued viability for the fund. The League also supported comprehensive campaign finance reform, which stalled in partisan wrangling. In 1995 and 1996, the League continued its support for comprehensive reform through lobbying, testimony, grassroots action and work with the media. Members pushed for voluntary spending limits; public benefits, such as reduced-cost broadcasting and postal services, for participating candidates; aggregate limits on the total amounts candidates could receive in PAC and large individual contributions; and closing the loopholes that allow huge amounts of special-interest money to influence the system. Also in this period, the LWVEF launched a comprehensive program for articulating a public voice on campaign finance. Entitled "Money + Politics: People Change the Equation," the project brought citizens together to debate the problems in the system and discuss possible solutions. In 1996, opponents of League-favored reforms, arguing that politics is underfunded, sought to increase the amounts of special-interest money flowing into the system by loosening many existing contribution limits. The League and its allies soundly defeated this approach in the House but were unable to overcome opposition from most congressional leaders in both parties. Reformers did build bipartisan support for reform outside the leadership circles. The near collapse of the federal campaign finance system during the 1996 election focused national attention on the need for reform. In December 1996, the LWVUS endorsed the goals of a reform proposal developed by a group of academics. The approach focused on closing gaping loopholes in the law that allow special interests, the political parties and others to channel hundreds of millions of dollars into candidates' campaigns. Among the key goals: a ban on "soft money," closing the sham issue advocacy loophole and improving disclosure and enforcement. The LWVEF mounted a major advertising and grassroots education initiative calling attention to achievable campaign reforms. Working with experts from diverse political views, the LWVEF published a blueprint for reform: 5 Ideas for Practical Campaign Reform. Other efforts included ads in major newspapers, a PSA featuring national news anchor Walter Cronkite and citizen caucuses in 20 states. An unrelenting push by the LWVUS and other reform advocates succeeded in shifting the campaign-finance debate in the 105th Congress from a deadlock over spending limits to real movement to close the most egregious loopholes. The League supported the bipartisan McCain-Feingold bill in the Senate and the counterpart Shays-Meehan bill in the House, bringing grassroots pressure to bear against efforts by congressional leaders to stonewall real reform. Leagues responded to Action Alerts and lobbied their members of Congress to defeat parliamentary maneuvers blocking votes and to support meaningful reform. In summer 1998, reformers succeeded in forcing the House Speaker to schedule a vote on reform bills, including Shays-Meehan. Despite concerted efforts to defeat it, the bill passed the House by a vote of 252-179 in August 1998. League members immediately urged 19 senators to support a cloture vote on campaign finance reform legislation and to vote for real reform. However, in September 1998 the Senate once again failed to break a filibuster preventing a vote. In 1998, the LWVEF launched a campaign finance reform project, "Strategies for Success in the Midwest," working with state Leagues in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Efforts focused on educating citizens on practical ways to reform campaign finance and to offer citizens an opportunity to participate in the debate. In 1999, the LWVEF distributed "Make the Link" materials to state Leagues, drawing the connection between campaign finance and key issues such as the environment, teen smoking and health care. On the Hill, House leaders again worked to block the Shays-Meehan bill in the 106th Congress. Using a discharge petition, reformers forced the leadership to move, and the bill passed on a strong vote. Senate passage once again proved elusive, despite citizen pressure. However, the League and other supporters were successful in achieving passage in June 2000 of so-called "527" legislation, requiring political organizations set up under Section 527 of the IRS code to disclose the identity and amounts given by their donors and how they spend the money. As the League continued to focus on reducing the corrupting influence of big money in elections, League work at the state level contributed to real progress. Public financing, the "Clean Money Option," was adopted in several states, including Arizona and Maine; other state reform efforts have made progress in Massachusetts and Vermont. Reform measures were on the 2000 ballot in Missouri and Oregon, but fell short. The LWV and other reformers succeeded in putting campaign finance reform on the front burner of the national political agenda. In January 2000, in Nixon v. Shrink Missouri PAC, the Supreme Court upheld limits on state campaign contributions that were analogous to the federal limits. The LWVUS joined an amicus brief in the case. The Court's decision restated the constitutional underpinning forcampaign finance reform formulated in Buckley v. Valeo, despite arguments by reform opponents. In 1999-2000, League members supported 90-year-old Doris Haddock, "Granny D," in her walk across the country to promote campaign finance reform. The battle for meaningful campaign finance reform has been long and hard. The Senate debated the McCain Feingold-Shays-Meehan bill for more than a week in 2001. The League pushed successfully for the strengthening amendment from Senator Wellstone (D MN) and to protect against a raft of weakening amendments. On the House side, the leadership once again tried to use the rules to block reform. Our allies in the House, with strong support from the LWVUS, had to resort to a discharge petition to force action. The LWVUS worked with the bill's sponsors and lobbied swing members of the House and Senate to achieve campaign finance reform. The LWVUS conducted two rounds of phone banking, asking League members in key districts to lobby at key junctures in the congressional debate. The LWV participated in many press conferences and rallies to make the citizen's voice heard on campaign finance reform. On March 27, 2002, the League's five-year campaign for the McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan bill reached fruition when the President signed the legislation into law. The bill, which became known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), closed the most significant loopholes in campaign finance regulation-- the "soft money" loophole that allowed unlimited corporate, union and individual contributions and the "sham" issue ad loophole that allowed undisclosed contributions to campaign advertising advocating particular candidates. The League was instrumental in developing this approach and pushing it--at the grassroots and in Congress--to final enactment. With the passage of BCRA, the League turned its attention to legal challenges to the law, which continue to the present day. The LWVUS filed an amicus brief on "sham issue ads" for the Supreme Court case McConnell v. FEC. The brief explained why it is important that funding for attack ads in the final days of an election not be used to circumvent the "soft money" ban in BCRA. In September 2003, the League organized a rally at the Supreme Court to demonstrate public support for the law. In December, the Supreme Court upheld all the key components of BCRA in McConnell v. FEC, including the "sham issue ad" provisions briefed by League. In the first half of the 108th Congress, the League urged Senators to cosponsor the "Our Democracy, Our Airwaves Act" introduced by Senators McCain, Feingold and Durbin. The LWVUS helped targeted Leagues organize in-district lobby visits in support of the Act, and through the National Lobby Corps lobbied selected Senators requesting co-sponsorship of the bill. The League, along with partners, conducted a national public education campaign "Our Democracy, Our 20 Airwaves," studying the role of television in elections, the cost of accessing these public airwaves and the importance of strengthening public interest information coming from broadcasters. The LWVUS put together organizing tools for local Leagues to use while creating educational campaigns in their communities. In the second session of the 108th Congress, the League continued its work on improving the presidential public financing system. The LWVUS sought cosponsors to legislation introduced by Senators McCain and Feingold and Representatives Shays and Meehan to fix the system. The LWVUS also joined a coalition project that sought pledge commitments from the 2004 presidential candidates to support the public financing system's reform if elected. In 2003 and 2004, the League again urged taxpayers to check the box to support the Presidential Election Fund. In 2005 and 2006, the League continued to promote campaign finance reform as well as public funding for presidential elections. In December 2005, the League president spoke at a Capitol Hill conference titled "The Issue of Presidential Public Financing: Its Goals, History, Current Status and Problems." In 2006, the LWVUS joined with other organizations in a letter to U.S. Representatives urging them to co-sponsor and support the Meehan-Shays bill that would make a series of important reforms to the presidential public financing system. Throughout 2005, the League urged members of Congress to vote against the Pence-Wynn and other bills that aimed to undermine existing campaign finance regulations. In December, the League joined other groups in submitting an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. v. Federal Election Commission, which challenged the application of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act to the financing of television ads in Wisconsin. Through 2006, the League continued to support meaningful campaign finance reform, urging Representatives to vote for a ban on leadership PACs as well as support a bill that would close soft money loopholes. During the 2008 presidential campaign, the League pressed all the candidates to support reform of the presidential public financing system. In 2007 and 2008, the League endorsed legislation to fix the public financing system for president and to establish congressional public financing for the first time. The League also supported banning leadership PACs and continued to press the courts to properly interpret and enforce campaign finance law. In the late 2000s, the LWVUS was involved as a "friend of the court" in two pivotal U.S. Supreme Court cases: Caperton v. Massey and Citizens United v. FEC. In the latter case, the League argued that corporate spending in elections should not be equated with the First Amendment rights of individual citizens. In 2010, the League reacted swiftly and strongly against the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The League President testified before the relevant House committee on the key steps that can be taken to respond, focusing on the importance of including tighter disclosure requirements before the 2010 elections. The League continues to urge passage of the DISCLOSE Act to counter the Court's decision. In early 2012, the LWVUS board appointed a Campaign Finance Task force to examine legislative and constitutional efforts to achieve campaign finance reform. Convention 2012 reaffirmed the League's commitment to campaign finance reform by passing a resolution that called for advocating strongly for campaign finance measures including but not limited to constitutional amendments. In the summer of 2012, the League ran radio ads in Tennessee and Maine asking Senators Corker, Alexander, Snowe and Collins to support campaign finance reform. The ads were timed in anticipation of Congressional action on the DISCLOSE Act. The ads garnered press coverage from outlets in both states. In the 2012 elections, huge amounts of campaign spending came from so-called independent groups, much of it from secret contributions. The League took on these issues, arguing that much of the "independent" spending was actually coordinated with candidate campaigns, and therefore illegal. The League also pointed to the secret "dark money' and pushed for enhanced disclosure. Also, the League continues to push for legislation to protect and reinvigorate the public financing system for president. In addition, the League continues to work to reinvigorate the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission (FEC) which has refused to enforce the law.

Health Care

Health Care Committee Report

It is sometimes confusing to distinguish health care research, policy and advocacy organizations. Here is a brief look at some of the national and state organizations working toward implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA):

Official government information is available through Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services(CMS) with a website full of detailed information.

A few of the national organizations where research and policy analysis may be found include Kaiser Family Foundation ( and Families USA ( where advocacy opportunities are often suggested.

Missouri has focused health care activity through a number of coalitions. Many grassroots groups are part of several coalitions. Here are a few of those examples: Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance (, Missouri Health Care for All ( and Missouri Medicaid Expansion Coalition (Contact

MISSOURI FOUNDATION FOR HEALTH ( has been a funding partner for health related organizations in our community for many years. With the passage of ACA, they have been especially helpful in providing research and policy analysis for Missouri. COVER MISSOURI is an E-news format that brings their information to you. Through the Cover Missouri banner, there will be assistance for outreach and education. Getting accurate information to the public is a crucial role in implementation of health reform.

The Missouri Association of Social Welfare (MASW) will present an opportunity to learn more about Medicaid Expansion and where we stand in Missouri. You might also be interested in learning how to testify at a House Committee Public Hearing scheduled in Saint Louis for August 14. August 9, 2013 from 12-2pm At the Highlands in Forest Park, 5163 Clayton Ave. with GUEST SPEAKERS: Margaret Donnelly, Former Director of Missouri Department Health and Senior Services Michelle Trupiano, Director of the Missouri Medicaid Coalition Lunch is available for $10. (Scholarships available to cover lunch if needed: contact Jeanette Mott Oxford, Please RSVP to Christine Woody,, 573-690-7662

You are invited to join the Health Care Committee meeting on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. We meet at Faith Des Peres Presbyterian Church, 11155 Clayton Road, 63105 (between Lindbergh and Ballas). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is to be fully implemented by January 2014. There is a lot going on! Learn with us and be informed for your own advocacy efforts.

Link to Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice

Link to the online witness form.

This will take you to Missouri Health Care for All's website where folks can fill in the required info and we will take care of printing it on a witness form.

The rest of the hearings. A location still hasn't been set for the STL hearing:

  • Saturday, July 27, Columbia - Columbia School Administrators Building (1818 West Worley St Columbia, MO 65208), 9:00-6:00
  • Wednesday, July 31, Kennett - B.A.I.L.S (719 Teaco Rd. Kennett, MO 63857), 9:00-6:00
  • Wednesday August 7, Northwest MO - Missouri Veterans Home (1111 Euclid Ave Cameron, MO 64429), 9:00-6:00
  • Wednesday August 14, St. Louis Area TBA, 9:00-6:00

Please let me know if you need anything else. Thanks!

Please Note NEW Contact Info! Michelle Trupiano Director of Missouri Medicaid Coalition 314-805-5429

LWVUS Agriculture Update March Consensus Meetings

The March Units will be the Consensus Meetings for LWVUS Agriculture Update Position

"The March Consensus Meeting with the Questions

On February 22 the Environmental Quality Committee conducted a Training and Summarization of the Materials in Preparation for the Unit MeetingsTraining Materials

Copy of the Slides

Agricultural Update leaders' Guide

Preparation for Consensus Meetings

Agricultural Update Leader's Guide

Links to the References Listed in the Leader's Guide:

A1 United States Department of Agriculture

A2 Agriculture's Role in American, Nutrition

A3 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

A4 Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

A5 Food Labeling

A6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

A7 Interaction among Food Safety Agencies

A8 Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

A9 Antitrust Enforcement Agencies and Legislation

T1 Farm Management

T2 Plant Breeding and Biodiversity

T3 Genetic Engineering of Plants

T4 Pesticide Management

T5 Soil Management

T6 Water Management

T7 Animal Management

T8 Other Technologies (Nanotechnology)

F1 Overview of Agriculture Subsidy

F2 Overview of Crop Insurance

G1 Agriculture Update Acronyms

G2 Glossary

Consensus Questions:

Agriculture Update Consensus Questions Economic Health of the Agricultural Sector
1. Should government financial support for agriculture be directed to:

a) Subsidized agricultural credit (loans) (Yes, No, No Consensus)

b) Disaster assistance (Yes, No, No Consensus)

c) Crop insurance (Yes, No, No Consensus)

d) Farms that supply local and regional markets (Yes, No, No Consensus)

e) Subsidized implementation of best management practices (Yes, No, No Consensus)

f) Commodity crop programs, e.g., corn, soybeans, sugar, cotton, wheat (Yes, No, No Consensus)

g) Commodity livestock program (Yes, No, No Consensus)

h) Commodity dairy program (Yes, No, No Consensus) i) Specialty crops, e.g. fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. (Yes, No, No Consensus)

j) Other production methods, e.g. organic, hydroponic, urban, etc. farms (Yes, No, No Consensus)


2. What changes should government make regarding direct payment programs to farm operators? Note: Farm operators can be anything between family farms to huge corporations.

a) Eliminate direct payments to farm operators (Yes, No, No Consensus)

b) Update the rules for direct payments to farm operators to support sustainability (Yes, No, No Consensus)

c) Broaden the types of farms that are eligible (Yes, No, No Consensus)

d) Broaden the types of crops that are eligible (Yes, No, No Consensus)

e) Effectively enforce existing rules (Yes, No, No Consensus)


3. What changes to current crop insurance programs should government make?

a) Extend to more types of crops (Yes, No, No Consensus)

b) Link to the use of conservation practices (Yes, No, No Consensus)

c) Limit insurance for the cultivation of marginal and environmentally sensitive land (Yes, No, No Consensus)

d) Cap amount of premium subsidy to a single farm operator (see note in question 2) (Yes, No, No Consensus)


4. Should government act on any of the following?

a) Revise anti-trust legislation to ensure competitive agricultural markets (Yes, No, No Consensus)

b) Enforce anti-trust laws as they relate to agriculture (Yes, No, No Consensus)

c) Promote alternative marketing systems, including regional hub markets, farmer cooperatives, farm markets, etc. (Yes, No, No Consensus)


Animal Management

5. Which of the following approaches to animal management should government achieve?

a) Transparently collect and disclose data about regulated animal feeding operations (AFOs) or aquaculture operations and about the health of animals in such regulated operations (Yes, No, No Consensus)

b) Apply and enforce existing clean air and clean water regulations to animal or seafood management facilities (Yes, No, No Consensus)


6. Which of the following approaches to animal waste management should government require or bring about?

a) Treat animal waste with environmentally sound technologies for all regulated AFOs (Yes, No, No Consensus)

b) Prioritize federal funds to mitigate existing environmental challenges (such as Environmental Quality Incentives Program, cost share, loans, etc.) rather than construction of new facilities (Yes, No, No Consensus)


Research and Development

7. Which of the following approaches to research and development (R&D) should government fund or accomplish? Note: For the purpose of these questions and some questions below, "developed using any new technology" or "new technologies" refer to any of many scientific processes for developing new crops or animals with genetic engineering, nanotechnology or other new techniques, which are not the traditional breeding or hybridization techniques.

a) Basic research (Yes, No, No Consensus)

b) Independent third-party (such as an academic institution) risk assessment of products developed using any new technology (Yes, No, No Consensus)

c) Research to assess the impacts of new technologies on human health and the environment, prior to their widespread adoption (Yes, No, No Consensus)

d) Research that advances the continuation of diversified and sustainable agricultural systems (Yes, No, No Consensus)

e) Seed banking, research, and other means that promote and preserve genetic diversity (Yes, No, No Consensus)

f) Both transparency in the reporting of research studies related to approval of new products and respect for intellectual property rights of private enterprises engaged in research (Yes, No, No Consensus)

g) Research on long-term effects of new crops, products and processes (Yes, No, No Consensus)

h) Development of new practices and technologies to promote conservation for all types of farms (Yes, No, No Consensus)


Food Safety

8. Which of the following approaches to food safety should government perform or fund?

a) Clarify and enforce pre-market testing requirements for new foods and food additives developed using any new technology (see note below question 7) (Yes, No, No Consensus)

b) Require developers to monitor all food products developed using any new technology after releasing to the market (Yes, No, No Consensus)

c) Withdraw marketing approval if products are shown to be unsafe (Yes, No, No Consensus)

d) Require post-market monitoring of approved pharmaceutical applications in animal production for human health and environmental impacts (Yes, No, No Consensus)

e) Require developers of new products to provide data and other materials to independent third-parties (such as academic institutions) for pre- and post-market safety assessment as appropriate (Yes, No, No Consensus)

f) Limit use of antibiotics in animal production to treat and control disease (Yes, No, No Consensus)

g) Fund independent third-party (such as academic institutions) risk assessment of long-term and multiple exposures from foods on human health and the environment (Yes, No, No Consensus)

h) Promote crop management practices that decrease dependency on added chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers) (Yes, No, No Consensus)

i) Fund, train and add personnel for assessment and compliance functions of regulatory agencies (Yes, No, No Consensus)


Food Labeling

9. How sufficient are the following regarding current food labeling?

a) Nutrition Facts on food labels (Insufficient, Sufficient, Too much, No Consensus)

b) Nutrition Facts on food labels as a means of consumer education (Insufficient, Sufficient, Too much, No Consensus)

c) Common allergen labeling (Insufficient, Sufficient, Too much, No Consensus)

d) Health and ingredient claims that consumers can understand (Insufficient, Sufficient, Too much, No Consensus)


10. Which of the following should government achieve regarding marketing and ingredient claims on food labels?

a) Define (and approve for use) health and safety marketing terms (e.g. immunity support, humane, pasture-raised, natural, etc.) (Yes, No, No Consensus)

b) Regulate the use of images or other sensory advertising (Yes, No, No Consensus)

c) Require that ingredient marketing claims accurately represent what is in the required ingredient list (Yes, No, No Consensus)


11. Recognizing that each food developed using any new technology can be unique, and assuming that required food labeling should be useful to consumers, should the following generalized information relating to how products or components are developed be presented on food labels? See note below question 7. All these questions also assume some percentage threshold of new technology ingredients, such as the 0.9% used in the European Union.

a) Contains ingredients developed using any new technology stating which technologies are involved (Not Recommended, Voluntary, Mandatory, No consensus)

b) Does not contain ingredients developed using any new technology (Not Recommended, Voluntary, Mandatory, No consensus)

c) If meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products are from animals that have consumed feed developed using any new technology stating which technologies are involved (Not Recommended, Voluntary, Mandatory, No consensus)


Agricultural Update

Food Safety is everyone's concern. The LWVUS the Board has adopted the scope for the current Agricultural Position Update. "The Agriculture Update will focus narrowly on 1) current technology issues in agriculture including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), herbicides, pesticides, sustainable farming, agriculture water pollution, aquifer depletion, antibiotics in livestock, and accurate food labeling; and 2) current agriculture finance issues including consolidation in agriculture industries, crop subsidies and the federal agricultural regulatory process." The EQ committee could use some additional people with an interest in food safety to help in the upcoming discussion of the Update on the Agricultural Position. If other people in the community are interested in Food Safety, ask them join a lively discussion and participate.

ILR Articles for the Agricultural Study with Additional Links

1. GMOs

Introduction to Genetically Modified Foods

Organic and Non-GMO

GMO Free Midwest

NY Times A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops

2. Nanotechnology

3. Herbicides and Pesticides

Herbicides and Pesticides

References on Pesticides and Herbicides

EPA review of tolerances for pesticide residues

EPA's pesticide programs

US Farmer and Rancher Alliance

Beyond Pesticides

4. Antibiotic Use in Agriculture

Antibiotics and Agriculture

Additional Reference on Antibiotics

CDC Threat Report: Yes, Agricultural Antibiotics Play a Role in Drug Resistance

Pros and cons of using antibiotics in animal feed

Antibiotic Resistance and the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture Statement of Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D.

5. Water and Agriculture

Water and Agriculture

Additional Information on Water in Missouri and Agriculture and the Environment visit Missouri Coalition for the Environment

6.Farm Bill and Government Funding of Agriculture

Interaction of Federal Agencies and Food Safety Mission Overview

7. Additional Links on Food Safety

Food Safety News

CDC Most Common Food Illness

Link on Food Labeling Stingy Funding has put FDA in a crisis

Overview of Food Labeling

Overview of Animal Management

See Section Below for links to the full LWVUS Background Papers.

Agricultural Update Background

Background Information from LWVUS



Overview of Key Agencies Supporting and Regulating Food and Agriculture

More than half of our country's private land is used for agriculture. The choices farmers make in managing those lands affect the quality of our waters, the ability to feed our people and the future of the land itself. Those choices to a large extent are influenced by the actions of the federal government through the departments and agencies that provide support to farmers and consumers in a variety of ways, promulgate regulations to ensure safe, nutritious food and to protect the environment, and enable competitive markets. Here are the various papers provided for background by the LWVUS Agricultural Update Committee on government agencies.

United States Department of Agriculture

Agriculture's Role in American Nutrition

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health

Food Labeling:

Food Labeling

Food Safety:

Interaction among Food Safety Agencies

Overview of Farm Management and Introduction to Agriculture Technology

Through continuous innovation over thousands of years, farmers have fed ever-growing populations with an increasing variety of produce. Even as a smaller and smaller part of the U.S. population is involved in production agriculture, technology has progressed at a rapid pace with advances each year allowing farmers to increase yields using fewer inputs. The best yields that can be obtained involve an integrated approach using better seeds, water efficient technologies, nutrients, pest and weed management, and soil conservation. It is an amalgamation of pieces that have to come together to help ensure a steady, safe supply of food. This portion of the Agriculture Update elaborates on farm management of crops and animals, traditional and genetic engineered plant breeding, and the technologies affecting pesticides, water and soils. The chapters discussing these topics are:

Farm Management

Pesticide Management

Soil Management

Water Management

Research and Development:

Plant Breeding and Biodiversity

Genetic Engineering of Plants

Nano and Other Technologies

Animal Management:

Animal Management

Economic Health of the Agricultural Sector:

Overview Subsidies

Overview Crop Insurance

Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Antitrust Enforcement Agencies and Legislation

Additional Multimedia Resources and Summer Reading

Summer Reading for Agriculture Update

Below are some example multimedia resources. These are not meant to endorse any particular practice or viewpoint, but to give you an indication of the breadth of the topics. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the Agriculture Update Forums at

AQUACULTURE Mote Aquaculture Farm (video 7:28 minutes) Salmon farming in British Columbia (video 5:58) By the BC Salmon Farmers Association Farmed Salmon: Unhealthy and Unsustainable, Ocean Futures Society, (video 5:13 minutes)

ORGANIC FARMING USDA Certified Organic Farm, Spring Chicken Media, (video 9 minutes) Joel Salatin Polyface Farm (by USA Today) (video 4:02 minutes) Covers the system he employs on his farm from beef, to broilers, to laying hens and pigs See also the first part of 2008 Food for Thought lecture at Oregon State Univ. below under Sustainable Agriculture.

GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD The Eyes of Nye - Genetically Modified Foods (video 24:58 minutes) Good "primer" on the concept of genetically engineered foods + it's presented by Bill Nye in a comprehensively broad, simplified and even entertaining manner, making it viewer friendly. Disclosure: At the end, he does endorse farming responsibly, testing each case and labeling foods. Wikipedia article on the genetically modified food controversies that seems to include most points of view (text) See also middle part of the 2008 Food for Thought lecture at Oregon State Univ. below under Sustainable Agriculture.

NANOTECHNOLOGY Nanotech Risks, Discovery Channel, 2009 (video 2:10 minutes) Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, talks to Jorge Ribas about the technology's risks Agricultural nanotechnology and the future of food, webinar by the Institute for Trade and Agriculture Policy, May 2013 (video 57:43 minutes). Technical webinar about nanotechnology applications in food and farming, potential risks, and regulatory recommendations LABELING U.S. FDA Food Labeling Regulations (English) (video 3:46 minutes) This is a brief video introduction on the various components of U.S. FDA Food Labeling Regulations. Its audience is to give producers an understanding of regulations but I think the info is appropriate for our population. Commonwealth Club of California Oct. 2012 panel on Prop. 37: "GMO: Label or Not?" (audio 1:10 hours)

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE 2008 Food for Thought lecture at Oregon State Univ. (video 1:24 hours) UC Davis genetic engineering expert, Professor Pamela Ronald, and her organic farmer husband, Raoul Adamchak, discuss how the best practices of both organic farming and genetic engineering can be used together to improve farming. Note: the lecture can also be searched through the "transcript" button for key terms and what times they are covered in the video + it appears to be voice recognition, so is not 100% accurate, but is still a very neat feature. Out to Pasture: The future of farming (video 34:11 minutes) Out to Pasture contrasts industrial-style confined animal production with farms that raise food animals outdoors in diversified operations, striving to be sustainable. Who Killed the Honey Bee? (BBC Documentary) (video 58:50 minutes) An investigation into colony collapse disorder and die-offs of bees

CROP INSURANCE Crop Insurance 101 (video 3:35 Minutes) Tom Zacharias, President of NCIS, explains the basics of crop insurance

ANIMAL MANAGEMENT Michigan Farmer Fights Livestock Factory Farm Pollution (video 3:06 minutes) Beef Documentary (video 6:33 minutes) Uploaded on Sep 21, 2011. Farmers discussing the science behind a cattle feedlot and the care involved in raising the cows. The environmental practices they observe and are constantly improving upon are showcased. Inhumane Feed Lot Beef vs. Humane Grass Fed Beef (video 3:31 minutes), FOX News segment discussing health and practice differences (some graphic scenes) Living Downstream from a Pig Farm (video 3:01 minutes) Hog Production at Smithfield Farms (video 4:11 minutes) Undercover at Smithfield Foods (video 3:36 minutes) Humane Society discussion of Smithfield gestation crates

LWVUS Agricultural Position

The League's History In 1986, the League undertook a two-year study and member agreement process on the role of the federal government in U.S. agriculture policy, examining elements of federal farm policy, its contemporary setting and policy alternatives. The resulting 1988 position on agriculture policy supports policies for sustainable agriculture and action to reduce the use of toxic chemicals on the farm. The League also supports targeting research programs and technological assistance to mid-sized farms and to sustainable agriculture. While many of the programs the League supports--farm credit at reasonable terms and conditions and programs to enable farmers to use sustainable agriculture--may benefit family or mid-sized farms, the League supports these programs for all farms, regardless of size. The position supports "decoupling" (moving away from direct payments based on production) as consistent with the strong League consensus in favor of greater reliance on the free market to determine prices. Reliance on the free market for price determination also can support a gradual reduction in loan rates. The League does not envision total reliance on the free market to determine agriculture prices. In assessing programs that move agriculture toward greater reliance on the free market, consideration would include problems peculiar to agriculture, such as severe climate or natural disasters.

The League supports federally-provided farm credit, but believes the federal government should be the lender of last resort. The League position does not address supply controls, capping payments to farmers, protecting farm income or any particular commodity program. It supports the conservation reserve program and opposes the removal of lands prematurely from the conservation reserve. In 1989, the League opposed legislation that would have preempted stricter state laws on the regulation of pesticides. In 1990, it urged the House to pass a farm bill that would protect land and water resources, reduce the use of toxic chemicals, and target research and technical assistance to developing environmentally sound agriculture practices. The League called for measures to strengthen conservation provisions, continue the conservation reserve, and permit retention of base payments and deficiency payments when farmers file and implement an approved plan for farming with environmentally beneficial practices. The League also called for national standards of organic production and opposed the export of pesticides that are illegal in the United States. In 1988-1991, the LWVEF worked with Public Voice for Food and Health Policy and state and local Leagues on a citizen education project on agricultural issues, including pesticide residues in food and water, sustainable agriculture, and research and technology.

The League's Position Statement of Position on Federal Agriculture Policy, as Announced by National Board, October 1988: The LWVUS believes that federal agriculture policies should promote adequate supplies of food and fiber at reasonable prices to consumers, farms that are economically viable, farm practices that are environmentally sound and increased reliance on the free market to determine prices.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE. Federal policy should encourage a system of sustainable, regenerative agricultural production that moves toward an environmentally sound agricultural sector. This includes promoting stewardship to preserve and protect the country's human and natural agricultural resources.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. Agricultural research, development and technical assistance should continue to be a major federal function. Resources should be targeted to developing sustainable agricultural practices and addressing the needs of mid-size farms. AGRICULTURAL PRICES. The LWVUS supports an increasing reliance on the free market to determine the price of agricultural commodities and the production decisions of farmers, in preference to traditional price support mechanisms.

AGRICULTURE AND TRADE. U.S. efforts should be directed toward expanding export markets for our agricultural products while minimizing negative effects on developing nations' economies. Consistent with the League's trade position, multilateral trade negotiations should be used to reduce other countries' barriers and/or subsidies protecting their agricultural products. FARM CREDIT. Farmers should have access to credit with reasonable terms and conditions. Federally provided farm credit is essential to maintaining the viability of farm operations when the private sector is unable or unwilling to provide the credit farmers need.

Of these policies, the League believes the most essential for the future of agriculture are: encouraging sustainable agriculture; providing research, information and technical assistance to agricultural producers; and increasing reliance on the free market to determine prices.