The Case for Conservation

The Case for Conservation

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.  


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Next Tuesday (Aug. 5), Missourians will decide if their state constitution should be amended to enshrine a so-called “Right-to-Farm” provision. The vaguely worded and open-ended amendment states, “the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state.”

Friday, January 31, 2014

The farm bill that passed the House this week and will likely pass the Senate next week has some positive features, including new conservation requirements for farm businesses that collect crop insurance subsidies and more funding for local and organic farmers. But those important provisions are outweighed by new, expanded and largely unlimited subsidies that do too much to help the largest and most successful farm operations at the expense of family farmers and the environment.

Monday, January 27, 2014

EWG’s editors asked the entire staff to pick the top agriculture-related stories of 2013, a category that includes the farm bill, farm subsidies, crop insurance, conservation, genetically engineered crops and food and several other related topics.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

There has long been bipartisan support for conservation compliance by farmers and politicians alike. Now more than ever, those leading the way in reauthorizing the farm bill may hear a growing number of prominent Republicans voicing their support to relink to crop insurance the vital conservation compact between taxpayers and farmers.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dust storms have re-emerged across much of Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas, fueled by the same combination of persistent drought, plowing up fragile land and poor public policy that led to the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Every day, thousands of farmers take steps to reduce polluted runoff and restore wetlands and grasslands. Many more would help, but 40 percent of farmers have been turned away by the U.S. Department of Agriculture when they offer to share the cost of cleaner environment.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Seven U.S. senators last week called for re-linking the federal crop insurance program to conservation compliance during a House-Senate conference committee meeting on the 2013 farm bill. The ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee also endorsed the linkage.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hundreds of millions of conservation dollars in the federal farm bill should be used more effectively to address widespread water pollution problems in California, concludes a new report by Environmental Working Group.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An interactive map developed by the Environmental Working Group shows where more than 660 U.S. newspapers have published editorials since 2007 demanding meaningful reform of the federal farm bill.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Even if the government miraculously opens for business tomorrow, several critically important USDA conservation and nutrition programs will be shuttered.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

With interactive maps from EWG’s new report Going Going Gone!, you can find the “hot spots” where wetlands and other fragile lands are being torn up for crops and wildlife habitat is being destroyed.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The House should overwhelmingly reject the terrible “farm-only” farm bill being considered this morning.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Raising animals in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is bad for public health and the environment.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

No one should be surprised that the full House of Representatives thoroughly rejected the bloated and divisive farm bill (H.R. 1947) produced by the Agriculture Committee. Here's why:

News Releases

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

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.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the following statement in response to the passage of the farm bill in the Senate.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The bill produced by the farm bill conference committee falls far short of the reforms needed to create a federal food and agricultural policy that can meet the challenges of the 21st century, the Environmental Working Group said today.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hundreds of millions of conservation dollars in the federal farm bill should be used far more effectively to address widespread water pollution problems in California, according to a new analysis released today by Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) sent a letter to members of the 2013 Farm Bill conference committee today demanding a farm bill that reforms crop insurance and strengthens environmental protections.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A new analysis released by Environmental Working Group shows that 1.9 million acres, or near 3,000 square miles of wetlands and nearby habitat, went under the plow in the United States between 2008 and 2012.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

More than 1.2 million acres of farmland in Iowa lost more precious topsoil in five days of heavy rain this spring than what is considered tolerable for an entire year, largely because of inadequate conservation practices, a new EWG analysis shows.

Reports & Consumer Guides

Survey finds modest progress combatting Iowa soil erosion
In 2013, an Environmental Working Group report titled “WASHOUT” documented that soil erosion across Iowa farm land during that spring’s heavy rains had been far worse than previous estimates – in some cases carrying away a devastating 40 tons of soil in a single week from fragile and poorly protected fields. In many places, runoff carved “ephemeral gullies” as a result of growers’ inadequate conservation measures.
Failure to maintain buffer zones worsens farm pollution
Water pollution from farmland is a major problem in southern Minnesota and wherever row crops dominate the landscape across the United States. Much of this pollution can be prevented by the conscientious use of riparian buffers – strips of grass, trees or other permanent vegetation maintained along the banks of rivers, streams, lakes and other waterways.
Conservation Success Stories
Millions of Acres of Wetlands and Fragile Land Go Under the Plow
Across America’s heartland, in county after county and state after state, the landscape-devouring machinery of modern agriculture has been churning through millions of acres of irreplaceable wetlands and fragile, highly erodible grassland and prairie.
Spring Storms Batter Poorly Protected Soil and Streams
Media attention has understandably focused on flooding, especially given the devastating floods that have repeatedly struck the region in recent years.This year, it looks as if the Midwest will dodge the bullet – flooding has been damaging and heart-breaking for those affected, but nothing yet has resembled the scope and devastation of the 1993 and 2008 floods. But the Corn Belt’s rich soil and streams, especially in Iowa, haven’t been as lucky. The storms that pushed streams and rivers out of their banks have battered largely unprotected cropland soils throughout the region, sending tons of mud and farm chemicals into road ditches and streams across the heartland.
40 Years After Clean Water Act, Iowa's Rivers and Streams Still Murky
Forty years after the Clean Water Act became law, the data are clear: Iowa's rivers and streams are still murky. The pollution that continues to degrade them has become a case study on the consequences of the most serious flaw in this historic and otherwise effective federal law: It does little or nothing to address agricultural pollution.
How Crop Subsidies Contribute to Massive Habitat Losses
High crop prices and unlimited crop insurance subsidies contributed to the loss of more than 23 million acres of grassland, shrub land and wetlands between 2008 and 2011, wiping out habitat that sustains many species of birds and other animals and threatening the diversity of North America’s wildlife, new research by Environmental Working Group and Defenders of Wildlife shows.
Farm pollution threatens drinking water
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.
A Retrospective ... and Look Ahead
America’s farmers need a safety net, but so do the rich soil and clean water that sustain not just agriculture but the entire fabric of American society.