Congress convenes for Farm Bill conference

For Immediate Release

This morning, U.S. senators and representatives will try to reconcile their respective versions of the Farm 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 should agree on a bill that promotes sustainable, healthy agriculture and doesn’t sell out our environment.

“The bills that the Senate and House passed earlier this summer are two very different pieces of legislation. While the Senate passed a Farm Bill clean from anti-environmental provisions, the House forced through a bill that would prove toxic to our landscapes and our children. This should be a transpartisan issue. The Senate bill passed 86 to 11. The House version, which unreasonably created loopholes and incentivized bad practices, squeaked through by a vote of 213 to 211.

“The environmentally-irresponsible House version of the Farm Bill would:

  • Repeal the Clean Water Rule, which restored federal protections for half of our nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands.

  • Allow destructive mining, drilling, and road building in our national forests in Alaska, including the Tongass, which is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.

  • Exempt pesticide pollution from the Clean Water Act, even though pesticides have contributed to more than 1,800 instances of water pollution across the country.

  • Eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program, the nation's largest conservation program by acreage.

  • Pre-empt state and local laws aimed at health and environmental impacts of factory farms.

  • Severely undermine bedrock environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act.

  • Eliminate public input and environmental review for a wide range of activities on public lands.

“Overall, the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill is a much better starting point—though stronger environmental provisions should be included in future versions of the Farm Bill. We want to strengthen and expand sustainable agriculture. Although the Senate maintains overall funding for conservation programs in the Bill, it does not significantly increase funding for sustainability, and it cuts some crucial funds to expand other programs.

“Farm Bill negotiators would be wise to stick to the Senate’s bipartisan example, and pass a bill that works for all Americans, from farm to table. These policies don’t just affect corporate agribusiness and factory farms. These laws have major impacts on each of us when we run our taps, sit down to dinner, or even just step outside. We urge lawmakers to give us a final package that promotes sustainable agriculture and a healthy environment.”