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Opinion: The 2018 Farm Bill Battle Lines Have Been Drawn: Here’s What You Can Do

Last week, the Republican-drafted Farm Bill, called the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), failed spectacularly on the House floor when Republicans tried to leverage the farm bill to placate conservatives' agenda on immigration. Nevertheless, H.R. 2, which generally benefits large commodity producers while compromising long-term food security, provides a helpful view into where the policy battles are being fought on the road to passage.

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Animals
Coho spawning on the Salmon River. Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington / CC BY 2.0

New Farm Bill Contains Sneak Attack on the Environment With Toxic Pesticides

By Derrick Z. Jackson

If fish could wail, they would scream over the lethal powers granted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in part of the draft farm bill recently rolled out by the House Agriculture Committee. The bill, passed out of committee by Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) on a party-line vote last month, desperately fails farmers and low-income families. It also contains a number of sneak attacks on the environment. One such provision would allow the EPA to approve new pesticides with no assessment of their potential impact on fish and wildlife covered under the Endangered Species Act.

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In 2016 Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex in California and Oregon was sprayed with 236,966 pounds of pesticides. Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCullough / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

490,000 Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Sprayed on National Wildlife Refuges

America's national wildlife refuges are being doused with hundreds of thousands of pounds of dangerous agricultural pesticides every year, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity.

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Food
Pexels

Study Uncovers Surprising New Reason to Go Local

There are lots of ecological reasons to buy local food, from reducing the carbon footprint of the meals you eat to preventing agribusiness' destruction of unique ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest.

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Cows grazing illegally on recently deforested rainforest land within Jamanxim National Forest, a federally protected area in the state of Pará, Brazil. Marcio Isensee

New Film Shines Light on Cattle Industry Link to Amazon Deforestation

By Anna Sophie Gross

"The cow is the worst environmental problem in the Amazon, and in the world," says Greenpeace's Paulo Adario, speaking out in a new documentary which this April won the One Hour prize at the Film Research and Sustainable Development Festival ((FReDD) earlier this month.

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Hawaii Becomes First State in the U.S. to Ban the Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos

Tuesday Hawaii made history, as it became the first state in the U.S. to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, a highly toxic neurotoxin that causes significant damage to brain development in children. The pesticide's detrimental health effects led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama administration to propose banning all of its agricultural uses, but the Pruitt-led EPA under the current administration reversed this pledge. The bill, SB3095, is a significant first step in protecting public health from pesticide harms for the State of Hawaii. In addition to banning chlorpyrifos, SB3095 requires all users of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) to report usage of these pesticides, and mandates minimum 100-foot no-spray zones for RUPs around schools during school hours.

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Food
Bayer Crop Science Innovation Center. NCSUPlantPathology / Flickr

'Merger From Hell' Reportedly Approved by DOJ, Pushing Agrichemical Chokehold on Food System

By Andrea Germanos

Watchdog groups sounded alarms on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the proposed mega-merger of Bayer and Monsanto has cleared its final regulatory hurdle in the U.S.

The reported approval from the Justice Department came "after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets," the Journal reported, and despite concerns raised by hundreds of food and farm groups. It also comes weeks after the European Commission gave its thumbs up.

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Industrial agribusiness is destroying our most precious natural resource—water. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

From 'Sea to Shining Sea,' Industrial Ag Fouls America's Waterways

By Katherine Paul

A citizen-led group in Nebraska is fighting Costco's plan to build a huge chicken factory farm operation that residents in nearby cities say would pollute their drinking water.

Residents of Devils Lake, North Dakota, along with members of the Spirit Lake Nation Tribe are battling plans to build a hog CAFO in a neighboring community. They say the operation would pollute Devils Lake and area wetlands.

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Politics
Hondoranian activist Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in 2016 because of her opposition to a hydroelectric project, is the type of person the new treaty aims to protect.

Historic Latin American Treaty Protects Environmental Activists

The people on the front lines of protecting the environment need some protection as well.

According to a Feb. 2 report by Global Witness and The Guardian, 197 activists were killed in 2017 for defending their communities and natural resources against agribusiness, mining companies, infrastructure projects and poachers.

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