On the eve of floor action in the House on the farm bill, a bipartisan gathering of Congressional staff ventured outside the Beltway the other day to visit Terry Ingram’s 220-cow organic dairy farm in Virginia’s Culpepper County.
Since it was first authorized in the 1996 farm bill, USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program has grown into the single most important federal program that helps farmers and ranchers protect farmland and the environment as they grow America’s food.
The budget-busting farm bill approved Wednesday night (May 15) by the House Agriculture Committee and its leaders – Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) – is nothing but bad news for the environment.
Two out of every five farmers who seek assistance in reducing water pollution from their fields or the amount of pesticides and antibiotics they use are being turned away because USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service lacks sufficient funding.
Here’s the bottom line: Both farm bills proposed this week (May 13) by the House and Senate Agriculture committees would cut funding for the hungry and the environment to help boost subsidies for the largest and most successful farm businesses.
Today, on the eve of farm bill consideration by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, EWG is launching an unprecedented campaign to remind Congress that our land, our food, our families, and our farms are all worth protecting.
Six former chiefs of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service today (May 7) urged the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to once again require farmers to adopt basic conservation practices in exchange for crop insurance subsidies.
Federally subsidized crop insurance is now the most expensive program supporting farm income, so it’s no surprise that it will be at the center of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s deliberations on the 2013 farm bill, starting later this month. And as it happens, last year’s epic drought, which decimated crops across a wide swath of America, afforded a unique opportunity to assess the effectiveness of a program whose costs have ballooned to $9 billion a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
As Congress gets to work again in 2013 on renewing the farm bill, it has the opportunity to do more to support family farmers, protect the environment and encourage healthy diets, while ending wasteful and unnecessary subsidy payments that flow to profitable growers and the crop insurance industry. Here is the farm bill platform EWG announced early in 2013.