It’s a huge and comprehensive piece of legislation that drives federal spending and policies on agriculture, nutrition and conservation programs. In just one year – 2010 – farm bill programs spent $96.3 billion. How those dollars are used makes a big difference to our health and the environment.
For almost two decades, the Environmental Working Group has advocated for protecting vulnerable people from toxic contaminants, ending crop subsidies that encourage environmental harm and investing instead in conservation and sustainable development.
The Environmental Working Group knows that you care about the affordability and availability of healthy food and clean drinking water. So we wanted to make sure you know as much as you can about the massive piece of legislation that guides federal agriculture policy.
It is the only important piece of environmental legislation that Congress is almost certain to enact over the next 18 months. And it’s our best chance to fix major flaws in America’s badly broken food system. By tradition, it’s called “the farm bill.”
Something remarkable happened in Washington last week. In a historic, game-changing vote, the Senate voted to put America’s taxpayers and its soil and water ahead of special interests and the corn ethanol lobby.
With Congress’s appetite for ethanol souring, the corn ethanol lobby is digging deep for reasons to continue lavish government support for the environmentally damaging fuel. The Renewable Fuels Association – in a gambit to co-opt the annual gas price debate – is adorning Washington DC city buses with ads claiming that corn ethanol reduces gas prices by $0.89 per gallon.
Last week (May 30), the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee voted to cripple the nation’s budding effort to do something about the woeful quality of school food and make America’s kids healthier.
In nearly two decades of research and advocacy on pesticides and human health, Environmental Working Group has never before seen the produce industry take a high-profile role in debates over pesticide policy and safety, as it has this year. Invariably, it was the trade association for the pesticide industry that took the lead.
Tuesday’s (May 31) votes by the House Appropriations Committee represented one such baby step. For the first time in years, the committee in charge of setting federal spending levels decided that government payments to absentee land owners and wealthy farm operations should be trimmed to reflect today’s budget realities. It signaled that extravagant or irrational farm subsidies might finally have to give way.
The House Appropriations Committee is set to vote today on a spending bill that makes deep cuts to a broad range of food assistance programs that provide vital nutritional support for the poor, including pregnant women and children.
One year ago, President Obama signed an executive order directing the federal government to take the lead in the faltering effort to control the pollution fouling Chesapeake Bay. The President said he would do everything he can to protect the Bay and wildlife habitats in the region, and the public took heart that the Bay’s long decline might finally be reversed.
A federal judge granted preliminary approval on May 13th of the $1.25 billion settlement for black farmers for decades of discrimination at the hands of the US Department of Agriculture. President Obama signed the funding legislation for the settlement in a White House ceremony on December 8th.