The Latest on Farming
The Environmental Working Group released its 2012 farm bill platform today. We believe that Congress should enact farm and food policy legislation that: provides producers with an effective safety net at a lower cost to taxpayers; creates new markets for farm products; invests in conservation and nutrition programs that benefit all farmers and consumers; promotes greater consumption of fruits and vegetables; and meets the nation’s deficit reduction goals.Read More
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.Read More
This year’s effort to renew America’s food and farm policy through the farm bill creates an opportunity for Congress to do more to support family farmers, protect the environment, encourage healthy diets and ensure better access to healthy food – all while supporting working families.Read More
Environmental Working Group’s new report Troubled Waters has laid out three ways the 2012 federal farm bill can protect drinking water from farm chemicals run-off. Congress should:
- End direct payments, reduce farm insurance subsidies and block any new entitlement programs that encourage all-out production and hurt the environment.
- Renew the conservation compact that requires farmers receiving taxpayer-funded support to carry out basic conservation practices.
- Provide adequate funding for conservation programs in order to reward farmers who take steps to protect water.
A new Environmental Working Group report examines water pollution caused by farm runoff and details how treating the problem after the fact is increasingly expensive, difficult and, if current trends continue, ultimately unsustainable.Read More
The New York Times’ Ron Nixon has a report out on a just released Government Accountability Office study of federally subsidized crop insurance. An excerpt: The crop insurance subsidy, according to the G.A.O. report, ballooned to $7.3 billion last year from $951 million in 2000, or about $1.2 billion adjusted for inflation. A Congressional Budget Office study cited in the report estimates that the premium subsidy will cost $39 billion from 2012 to 2016, about $7.8 billion a year.Read More
One of the big challenges facing the globe in the next century will be access to clean water. In America, federal agriculture policies are putting drinking water used by millions of people at risk. Perverse incentives such as farm subsidies and ethanol mandates have ushered in an era of fencerow-to-fencerow planting of chemical-intensive commodity crops, even as funding to protect water sources has been repeatedly slashed.Read More
Water that runs off fields treated with chemical fertilizers and manure is loaded with nitrogen and phosphorus, two potent pollutants that inevitably end up in rivers and lakes and set off a cascade of harmful consequences, contaminating the drinking water used by millions of Americans. Treating this water after the fact to clean up the contamination is increasingly expensive, difficult and, if current trends continue, ultimately unsustainable. The only solution that will preserve the clean, healthy and tasty drinking water that people expect is to tackle the problem at the source.Read More
New York Times editorial board member Verlyn Klinkenborg writes about “ The Folly of Big Agriculture” at Yale 360. An excerpt: In its short, shameless history, big agriculture has had only one big idea: uniformity. The obvious example is corn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that American farmers — big farmers — will plant 94 million acres of corn this year. That’s the equivalent of planting corn on every inch of Montana.Read More
In a rare bit of good news for Americans concerned about the quality of their water, a district court judge in Polk County, Iowa, has denied an industrial agriculture lobby’s efforts to raise legal objections to the state’s clean water provisions. The Iowa Environmental Council has the scoop: Legal challenges to new clean water protections in Iowa raised by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and other groups are “without merit” and should not move on to trial, a judge in the Iowa District Court for Polk County ruled Friday.Read More
A variety of links to recent articles. Including: Food Fight author Dan Imhoff has come up with four ways the federal farm bill has contradicted itself over the years. The glaring conflicts, he says, include: subsidizing what the federal government doesn’t want people to eat, paying farmers to pollute, encouraging farmers to overplant and plow land, and farming corn for fuel.Read More
Ron Hays of the Radio Oklahoma Network reports on candid comments by Mark Lange, President and CEO of the National Cotton Council of America, on the hurdles in the way of crafting a new farm bill. An excerpt: “The commodity groups themselves have made it a little difficult on Congress because the commodity groups aren’t giving the Congress a unified voice."Read More
In a new study reported in the April issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists from the University of California-Berkley have found that fertilizer use is responsible for a huge increase in potent green house gases. From UC Berkley’s News Center: University of California, Berkeley, chemists have found a smoking gun proving that increased fertilizer use over the past 50 years is responsible for a dramatic rise in atmospheric nitrous oxide, which is a major greenhouse gas contributing to global climate change.Read More
Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group vice-president for government affairs, penned an op-ed in today’s Washington Times that asserts that with record profits, farmers shouldn’t be reaping larger subsidies. Some excerpts: More and more farm payments are being delivered as premium subsidies for farm insurance policies. As more farm businesses purchased government-subsidized insurance, the cost to taxpayers has exploded: from $2.4 billion in 2001 to nearly $9 billion in 2011.Read More