EWG’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. In the Midwest we pursue our mission by working to move agriculture in a more sustainable direction. Farmland dominates the landscape and watersheds in the Midwest. The way that land is used and managed has profound effects on our health through the water we drink and the food we eat.
Farming can actually make water cleaner and the environment healthier. Farms doing exactly that are scattered across the Midwest. We bring a unique combination of remote-sensing, big data and landscape analysis to bear to build pressure to change policy to heal the damage done by poor farming practices and to build excitement about how much healthier the environment could be through often simple changes in the way we farm.
Congress could dramatically cut spending on the federal crop insurance program without sacrificing anything other than the political objective of propping up a crop insurance industry that only exists because of taxpayer support. Cutting this spending would not necessarily mean providing farmers with less money, because the freed-up funds could be spent on programs that benefit both farmers and the public.Read More
The Obama Administration is ramping up efforts to link crop insurance subsidies with conservation requirements.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
Last month, the National Wildlife Federation reported that more than 398,000 acres – 620 square miles – of grasslands, forests and other land were plowed, cleared or otherwise converted to grow crops over a 12-month period from 2011 to 2012.Read More
It’s just common sense: If you’re not sick, your doctor doesn’t prescribe you medicine. Why should the animals we eat be treated any differently?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
How many members of Congress receive farm subsidies? If the House adopts an amendment to the farm bill requiring disclosure of subsidy recipients, including those who get crop insurance subsidies, we’ll finally get to know.Read More
Since it was first authorized in the 1996 farm bill, USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program has grown into the single most important federal program that helps farmers and ranchers protect farmland and the environment as they grow America’s food.Read More
Two out of every five farmers who seek assistance in reducing water pollution from their fields or the amount of pesticides and antibiotics they use are being turned away because USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service lacks sufficient funding.Read More
The reality is that the nation’s primary prairie and wetlands protection program – the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) – was not designed to meet the environmental challenges being created by record prices for farm commodities. Because the majority of the land in the program is taken out of agricultural production under 10- and 15-year rental agreements with the owners, cropland that had been “restored” with grasses and trees is increasingly being plowed under to grow crops again as soon as these agreements expire. As a result, the benefits of taxpayers’ investment in these short-term agreements have proved to be fleeting.Read More
There were two reasons that Environmental Working Group commissioned agricultural economist Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University to analyze how the heavily subsidized federal crop insurance program performed during the Corn Belt drought of 2012. The 2012 drought drastically cut crop yields across several states and Congress is about to take up the farm bill again under serious pressure to cut spending.Read More