USDA Action during Drought Opened 2.8 Million Acres to Haying and Grazing, Brought Nearly $200 Million in Forage for Producers
Sign-on letter sent to Speaker of the House John Boehner can be accessed through a link on this page.
EPA Reviews CAFO Policies
The EPA will review the regulations on CAFO’s in the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act to determine if they need to be changed if an adverse affect on small businesses is apparent. Section 610 from the Regulatory Flexibility Act states that the agency needs to review the economic effect of CAFO’s on small businesses with 10 years of a new rule being adopted. Comments are welcomed until December 30. There have been numerous litigation issues for the CAFO regulations after National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System(NPDES) permits became mandatory in 2003. The EPA would like feedback, especially from small businesses, to determine how to set effective rules if necessary.
Comments can be made through this link http://www.regulations.gov
Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2012-0813
Click on attachment to read article from the Associated Press.
Environment Maryland recently put out a press release (link below) regarding factory farm pollution limits. The release reported that over 35,000 residents from the greater DC region have signed a petition forwarded to the EPA, calling for setting stringent limits on factory farm pollution to protect waterways across the country. Pollution hazards from industrial factory farm operations impose many health and other environmental problems, such as dead zones and chemical risks imposed on the public.
House and Senate Farm Bills Call for Dramatic Conservation Program Cuts.
Click HERE to read an article detailing U.S. House action on the shortsighted stand alone drought relief bill that was passed on 8/2/12. For additional information on the 2012 Farm Bill check out our list of resources below, which includes links to fact sheets, alerts, news articles and sign-on letters. We anticipate activity on the Farm Bill to heat up again when Congress comes back from its summer recess.
Past Action: As we have previously reported, the House Agriculture Committee approved by a vote of 35-11, their version of the 2012 Farm Bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM). Their version includes 35 billion in 10-year savings achieved through major cuts in the food stamp and commodity programs. For the first time since 1985 (since the conservation programs were established in the Farm Bill), Congress is making huge cuts to these programs, to the tune of $6 billion.
The Farm Bill, which is reauthorized every five years, expires on September 30. In addition to the mammoth conservation program cuts the House bill also cuts signficant acreage from the Conservation Stewardship Program.The same dangerous pesticides amendment (HR 872) that was introduced initially on the Senate side, is now part of FARRM in sec. 10017. This section would overturn the Clean Water Act requirement that entities obtain permits before spraying pesticides directly into or near waters. This would axe all Clean Water Act protections for pesticides that are sprayed directly into streams, rivers, lakes, and other waters. Supporters of this pro-pesticide industry amendment want to eliminate the Clean Water Act safety review.
As if that were not enough, FARRM also weakens the link between the federal support and conservation compliance. This basic covenant between farmers and taxpayers assures that in return for receiving federal subsidies, including crop insurance subsidies, farmers should meet some basic eligibility requirements including protecting erodible soils and not draining wetlands on their property. This covenant between farmers and taxpayers is critical for reducing soil erosion, protecting wetlands, reducing downstream flooding risk, and decreasing nutrient pollution into rivers, lakes and streams, With the farm subsidy system set to shift away from direct payments, it is critical that conservation compliance be linked to taxpayer subsidized crop insurance, which is now the largest of the federal benefits farmers receive.