National Wildlife Federation’s Lara Bryant, coordinator of the organization’s agriculture program, had a pointed op-ed in yesterday’s Memphis Commercial Appeal on why federal crop insurance should require good conservation practices by farmers. An excerpt:
However, since Washington subsidizes 60 percent of the premiums for crop insurance, it seems that taxpayers should have a say on which activities we are paying for. For example, I do not want my tax dollars subsidizing wetland drainage, destruction of native grasslands and soil erosion.
Yes, farmers need a safety net, but so do water and soil. This is why I support re-establishing simple eligibility requirements for farmers to qualify for taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance. In return for $90 billion in taxpayer money over the next decade, it is only fair to ask participating farmers to take a few basic steps to reduce soil loss and protect water quality.
- Former Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) lost his primary election last night. Lugar, a true ag policy reformer, will be missed by EWG. He was one of the few farm-state senators to consistently attempt to direct subsidy payments away from profitable mega-farms and into the hands of farmers who truly need the assistance.
- Public radio’s WAMU in Washington interviews Alex Bolton, a reporter for The Hill newspaper, on why the farm bill could cut funding for Chesapeake Bay.
- On the heels of the pink slime/lean-finely-textured-beef controversy, ag giant Cargill Beef is turning to NASCAR for PR help. The coal and corn ethanol industries have both looked to NASCAR for PR assistance.
- But Cargill won’t go so far as to use the drug Zilmax to help supersize its beef. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a story about the entanglements between universities’ agriculture schools and pharmaceutical companies, which created Zilmax and other drugs that are being used to transform cattle “into bovine Schwarzeneggers.”
- Libertarian-oriented Reason magazine interviews sustainable farming advocate Joe Salatin, who says the modern farm subsidy system “continues to push American agriculture toward a simplistic, non-diversified handful of genetics and products, rather than the cornucopia nature enjoys.”
- Grist asks, “Will this farm bill do enough for young farmers?”
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