Farmers can do more than producing food and fiber. They can also produce clean air, clean water, and abundant habitat for wildlife. But farm policies are doing too little to reward good stewardship and too much to underwrite unsustainable crop and animal production by the largest and most successful farm businesses.
We’re fooling ourselves if we think that voluntary conservation efforts are going to solve the Corn Belt’s dirty water problems.
Drinking water, lakes and rivers in Iowa and across the Corn Belt are in serious trouble because of polluted farm runoff. To tackle the problem, for decades we’ve taken the approach favored by agricultural interests – making federal tax dollars available for conservation practices that curb runoff, encouraging farmers to adopt those practices, then hoping enough of them volunteer to do the right thing.
The cost to taxpayers of providing crop insurance to farmers has more than tripled since 2001, rising from an average of about $3 billion a year in 2001-2003 to more than $10 billion a year in 2012-2014. The increase is largely the result of sharp jumps in the cost of subsidizing both farmers’ premiums and the companies that sell crop insurance.Read More
The House Appropriations Committee today passed an agriculture appropriations bill that destroys critical environmental protections while leaving the lavish and wasteful federal crop insurance program unchecked, costing taxpayers billions of dollars, according to EWG.Read More
The so-called “prevented planting” component of the federal crop insurance program is wasting billions of dollars while encouraging growers to plow up wildlife-sustaining wetlands in the iconic Prairie Pothole Region of North and South Dakota.Read More
Last week, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released the alarming results of a study of waterways in the southwest corner of the state, reporting that only three of 93 segments it assessed was “fully supporting of aquatic life” and only one was “fully supporting of aquatic recreation.”
Nitrate and phosphorus runoff from farm fields is a major reason why water quality is notoriously poor in Iowa’s rivers, streams and lakes.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to pay for more than 100 conservation projects nationwide is an important step toward restoring water quality and protecting wildlife habitat, EWG said in a statement today.Read More
The American Farm Bureau Federation believes that it’s simply cheaper to pollute America’s rivers and streams – and pass the cost on to water utilities like the Des Moines Water Works – than it is to adopt conservation practices that help reduce polluted runoff from farm fields.Read More
In what has become an annual ritual, Congress unveiled this week a massive spending bill to keep the government going, which includes provisions that would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from vital programs that protect our land and water.Read More
Critics of EWG research that highlights the runaway conversion of pasture, forest and rangeland to grow row crops like to claim that our findings are contradicted by the Census of Agriculture published by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. They say that the census shows that acreage under cultivation is actually dropping. There’s just one problem with that.
Clean, cheap water from your tap might soon be a thing of the past.Read More
Policy makers seem to freeze with fear when confronted with terrifying algae. Regulatory and voluntary programs still haven’t produced a comprehensive and effective effort to stem nutrient pollution and combat the blooms. Left unchecked, water overloaded with nutrients willl cause more blooms in the future.Read More
Cleaner water in the Chesapeake Bay could mean billions of dollars in economic growth for the region.Read More
Defenders of genetically engineered crops regularly claim that these varieties cut erosion by encouraging farmers to use tillage practices that enhance soil conservation.Read More
What does it take for a small Caribbean nation to implement strong, sustainable and popular ocean conservation practices? A team of experts, an island community dedicated to preserving its way of life and one dynamic activist, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson.Read More
Corn-based ethanol is a major cause of the water pollution that is ravaging the Mississippi River basin and the Gulf of Mexico, a report by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inspector general concluded this week (Sept. 4).Read More