Quantcast

Farm Bill Draft Ignores Conservation, Enables Waste and Fraud

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

On July 5 Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson released their draft farm bill ahead of the House Agriculture Committee’s farm bill markup next week. The bill generates $35 billion in savings by cutting more than $16 billion from nutrition programs and more than $6 billion from conservation programs, while increasing crop insurance subsidies and decreasing commodity subsidies for a net savings of more than $14 billion.

“NSAC (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition) is pleased that the farm bill process has started in the House and with some of the specific provisions in the bill, but we are overall very disappointed with the draft starting point,” said Ferd Hoefner, NSAC policy director. “This is an anti-reform bill—bad for family farmers, rural communities and the environment. It will need to be reworked very substantially to gain the support of our coalition of farm and rural groups as the process moves forward.”

Under the draft bill, federal crop insurance subsidies would balloon to an unprecedented average of $10 billion per year—with no subsidy caps, no targeting, no income limits and not even minimal conservation requirements. “At a time when our nation faces record deficits, the draft bill is fiscally irresponsible, providing unlimited premium subsidies to the nation’s largest farms and wealthiest landowners,” said Hoefner.

The draft bill would increase the commodity payment limit by 250 percent above the already generous Senate-passed levels, and unlike the Senate-passed bill, would leave wide-open the current loopholes that allow mega-farms and absentee landowners to collect farm payments. “Subsidy loopholes that enable waste, fraud and abuse in commodity programs are alive and well in this bill,” noted Hoefner.

The draft bill significantly limits the tools that farmers have at their disposal to deal with soil and water improvements in the face of increasingly unpredictable weather and production conditions. “A modern, fiscally responsible farm safety net would not just pay farmers for a loss but help them to prevent it in the future,” said Hoefner. “By cutting acreage for the Conservation Stewardship Program by a whopping 30 percent, the draft House bill is telling farmers to ‘go it alone’ if they want to be proactive about smart land management.”

While the draft bill includes a Sodsaver provision to protect native grasslands, the provision is regional—not national—in scope. “The Committee has ignored the call by sportsmen, conservationists and farmers for a national Sodsaver provision,” said Hoefner. “The bill includes a piecemeal Sodsaver provision that would cause administrative headaches and farmer anger over arbitrary lines and inequities.”

The draft bill cuts in half the funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s keystone programs for beginning farmers and minority farmers, and cuts funding for rural economic development by 88 percent when compared to the average funding levels of the past three farm bills.

“Creating jobs in rural America and ensuring the success of the next generation of farmers are national priorities for American agriculture,but the draft House bill punts on funding for these priorities, leaving rural communities and beginning farmers in the lurch,” said Hoefner.

Among the many programs the draft bill repeals is a program that assists organic farmers with the costs of complying with regulations. “Organic is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture,” noted Hoefner. “A repeal of organic certification cost share is an attack on this growth.”

The Committee is scheduled to markup the draft bill on July 11. “The Committee should address these major deficiencies when it meets to markup a bill next week,” said Hoefner. “To the extent that does not happen, we are confident that these will be topics of major amendments when and if the bill reaches the House floor.”

Visit EcoWatch's FARM BILL page for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Record flood water levels in Venice hit again on Sunday making this the worst week of flooding in the city in over 50 years.

Read More Show Less

By Brian Barth

Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
(L) 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC

The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Austin Nuñez is Chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, which joined with the Hopi and Pascua Yaqui Tribes to fight a proposed open-pit copper mine on sacred sites in Arizona. Mamta Popat

By Alison Cagle

Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Navajo Nation has suffered from limited freshwater resources as a result of climate, insufficient infrastructure, and contamination. They collaborated with NASA to develop the Drought Severity Evaluation Tool. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.

Read More Show Less
Wild Exmoor ponies graze on a meadow in the Czech Republic. rapier / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Nanticha Ocharoenchai

In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.

Read More Show Less

Despite huge strides in improving the lives of children since 1989, many of the world's poorest are being left behind, the United Nations children's fund UNICEF warned Monday.

Read More Show Less