Congress announces deal on “clean” Farm Bill

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Bart Johnsen-Harris

Environment America

Today, after months of negotiation, the U.S. House and Senate released details of a deal they reached last week on the Farm Bill. The new, reconciled Farm Bill more closely resembles the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate in June, free from the anti-environmental provisions included in the House bill. Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for Environment America, issued the following statement:

“We need clean water, air, and land to grow healthy food. Congress deserves credit for crafting a Farm Bill that doesn’t sell out our environment.

“The final Farm Bill departs from the earlier House bill, which contained a number of harmful provisions. The deal excludes earlier language that would have exempted pesticide pollution from the Clean Water Act, opened Alaskan forests to destructive mining and drilling, and undermined the Endangered Species Act.

“The bill was as good as we could have hoped for, given the political climate. In addition to avoiding rollbacks, the bill makes positive steps by protecting drinking water. The bill would direct conservation funding toward drinking water protections, and would enable higher cost-share payments for the most successful conservation initiatives under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

“Environment America applauds Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in particular for her hard work to keep the Farm Bill free from anti-environmental provisions. Senator Stabenow should be commended for her stand to maintain safeguards that protect our water, land, and air.

“The final Farm Bill, which is expected to become law, would maintain mandatory funding for conservation programs—a significant accomplishment amid prominent calls for environmental budget cuts. The bill would expand certain programs at the expense of others, stopping short of any major net gain or loss to conservation initiatives.

“The Farm Bill impacts us all: when we run our taps, when we sit down to dinner, or even when we just step outside. The new Farm Bill is a step in the right direction, but future proposals should go even further to safeguard healthy food, clean water, and environmental conservation.”