This past Wednesday, the 2012 Farm Bill was "marked up" by the House and passed out of Committee. The result is what our friends at the Environmental Working Group call "the worst piece of farm and food legislation in decades": Many of the edits and amendments we hoped for did not make the cut.
Nitrogen being applied to growing corn in a contoured, no-tilled field in Hardin County. Photo by USDA.An amendment to once again apply the SodSaver provision on at a national level (rather than greatly differing regional approaches in place currnently) was withdrawn. An edited version would have-- in the words of Tim Walz (D-MN)-- "helped preserve critical habitat and save money," but as of today, farmers across the country are subject to very different sets of rules. Walz proposed an amendment to streamline competing sets of rules, but had to withdraw after Texans and Oklahomans disapproved… and this effort would have protected their native prairies! The provision would have also helped reduce the pollution that flows into the Gulf's natural resources, and we're lamenting its limitation.
Conservation compliance, which also would have helped the Mississippi River and our Gulf, met a similar fate: It was never even an amendment before the committee, despite making minimum land protection a requirement for federal funding. Overall, conservation programs have received a 6-billion dollar cut. This conservation defeat is being overlooked by the House and media, since the wider focus is currently on food stamps. Our efforts to restore the Gulf are moving on, and with the Farm Bill's upcoming full House vote, there are still chances for us to have our say. Stay tuned to learn how you can help!
Jacob Dilson is GRN's Media and Communications Intern.