Sign up to receive email updates, action alerts, health tips, promotions to support our work and more from EWG. You can opt-out at any time. [Privacy]


Policy Plate BLOG

Your daily serving of food and farm policy.

The Latest from Policy Plate

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Two newspapers in farm country editorialized on the Senate Agriculture Committee’s farm bill today. First, an excerpt from The Wisconsin State Journal’s “Better farm bill not good enough:” "But more scrutiny is needed of expanded insurance subsidies. Many growers already get heavily subsidized crop insurance. Now they could be protected against modest declines in yield or prices."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Kari Hamerschlag, senior food and agriculture analyst at the Environmental Working Group  breaks down just how bad the Senate Agriculture Committee version of the farm bill is for the good food movement.  Hamerschlag writes: "The farm bill draft released by the Senate Agriculture Committee last week (April 20) falls far short of providing farm and food policies Americans want."

Monday, April 30, 2012

Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook and senior food and agriculture analyst Kari Hamerschlag penned an op-ed in Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle: "If you believe the government ought to play an aggressive role in the nation's economic life, admit it: You're a liberal. But you're probably not as liberal as the average Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee."

Friday, April 27, 2012


Senate Agriculture Committee leaders are calling the 2012 farm bill proposal the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012. A farm bill that cuts programs for the hungry and the environment to help finance a new entitlement program and unlimited insurance subsidies for the largest and most profitable farm operations doesn’t deserve to be called any kind of “reform.”

Key Issues: 
Thursday, April 26, 2012


Statement of Craig Cox, Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources of the Environmental Working Group, on the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012: “A farm bill that cuts programs for the hungry and the environment to help finance a new entitlement program and unlimited insurance subsidies for the largest and most profitable farm operations should not be called a ‘reform’ bill."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Environmental Working Group released maps that highlight how expanding crop production is driving the loss of prairie grasslands and wetlands, particularly in the “prairie pothole” region of North and South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa.  The maps were compiled using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chris Clayton, policy editor at Progressive Farmer/DTN, examines the curious position being taken by industrial agriculture’s lobbyists. They claim that farmers are doing all they can to protect the environment, but at the same time the lobbyists resist even modest attempts to require minimal conservation efforts in exchange for new farm subsidies.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The imbalanced 900-page farm bill released by the Senate agriculture committee needlessly sacrifices conservation program funding to finance unlimited insurance subsidies and a new entitlement program for the largest and most profitable agribusinesses.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Craig Cox, Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Environmental Working Group, offered this initial take on the just released Senate Agriculture Committee’s 2012 farm bill. “The 2012 farm bill should do more to support family farmers, protect the environment, promote healthy diets and support working families. Unfortunately, the bill produced today by the Senate Agriculture Committee will do more harm than good. It needlessly sacrifices conservation and feeding assistance programs to finance unlimited insurance subsidies and a new entitlement program for highly profitable farm businesses.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

EWG and other environmental groups sent lawmakers a letter today (April 19) opposing the Domestic Fuels Protection Act of 2012 (H.R. 4345) and its companion, the Domestic Fuels Act of 2012 (S. 2264). The bill would provide a broad exemption from legal liability to fuel producers, engine manufacturers and retailers of virtually all transportation fuels and fuel additives – including gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol, or E15.

Key Issues: 
Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Environmental Working Group released a report (PDF) today (April 18) that shows that an EWG proposal to reform the costly federal crop insurance program through the 2012 farm bill could save taxpayers up to $18.5 billion over 10 years while delivering a reliable safety net to American farmers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A coalition of environmental and conservation groups sent a letter (PDF) yesterday (April 16) urging the leadership and ranking members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to include the conservation compact between farmers and taxpayers in new farm subsidy programs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

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.

Friday, April 13, 2012


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.
Thursday, April 12, 2012

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.

Key Issues: 
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


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.

Monday, April 9, 2012

In these tough budget times, taxpayers are subsidizing profitable farm businesses while 12.7 million people remain unemployed. And the press is taking note.  The Argus Leader, citing the Mitchell Technical Institute, reports the average net farm profit in South Dakota is $120,000.

Friday, April 6, 2012

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.

Key Issues: 
Thursday, April 5, 2012

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."

Key Issues: