This afternoon, the U.S. Senate passed a Farm Bill free of several anti-environmental provisions included in the House version by a vote of 86 to 11. Bart Johnsen-Harris, Clean Water Advocate for Environment America, issued the following statement:
“We cannot grow healthy food without clean water and proper stewardship of our land. Today, the Senate recognized that fact by passing a Farm Bill free of attacks on core environmental protections, such as the Clean Water Rule. We congratulate Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for their hard work to keep this Farm Bill clean.
"Overall, the Senate bill is a good starting point from which to strengthen and expand sustainable agriculture, though stronger environmental provisions should be included in future versions of the Farm Bill. 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.
"Senate leadership wisely kept proposals off the final bill that would have repealed the Clean Water Rule and exempted pesticide pollution from the Clean Water Act; pesticides have contributed to more than 1,800 instances of water pollution across the country.
"Unfortunately, the House version of the Farm Bill was loaded with these and other attacks on the environment, including:
Opening Alaska’s national forests -- including the Tongass -- to destructive mining, drilling, and logging;
Pre-empting state and local laws aimed at health and environmental impacts of factory farms;
Severely undermining vital bedrock environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act;
Eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program, the nation's largest land conservation program in terms of acreage.
"Poisoning our water and land to grow our food makes no sense. As Congress works to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill, we urge lawmakers to give us a final package that eschews attacks on the environment and promotes sustainable agriculture.”