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Statement of Environmental Working Group on Senate farm bill

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, June 21, 2012

“The farm bill reflects a rare opportunity to renew our farm and food policies to do more to support family farmers, protect the environment, encourage healthier diets, and support working families," said Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group. "The bill passed today by the Senate builds upon past efforts to support healthy diets and expands links between consumers and farmers. It also includes important reforms to crop insurance subsidies."

“However, the bill needlessly cuts vital nutrition and conservation funding, threatening a decade of environmental progress," said Cook. "Cutting food assistance programs at a time when many families are struggling to feed their children is unacceptable."

“Common sense reforms to the crop insurance program would have provided farmers a robust safety net and eliminated the need to cut programs designed to improve our drinking water and reduce hunger," said Cook. "The Senate was not allowed to debate amendments that would have capped crop insurance subsidies and eliminated or reformed costly new revenue guarantees."

“While we do not support this bill, we applaud the provisions that require farmers who receive crop insurance subsidies to carry out basic environmental protections on their farms and to reduce insurance subsidies for the largest and most successful agribusinesses," said Cook.

"The debate over the Senate farm bill also holds important lessons for public interest advocacy," Cook said. "When conservationists stood our ground and fought, we won against the supposedly invincible crop insurance industry. Too many in the conservation community didn’t fight at all against massive spending cuts to conservation programs that have already been hit by massive reductions in recent years. As a consequence, conservation funding took the largest proportionate hit in this bill. For the “food movement”, the Senate farm bill has been another, rather sobering reminder that until we develop political muscle to match our passion for a sustainable food system, we’ll continue to see billions of dollars misspent on industrial agriculture."

“We look forward to working with House leaders to strengthen conservation and nutrition provisions of the bill, to increase transparency, and to place reasonable limits on insurance subsidies," said Cook.