The 2012 Farm Bill: Reports & Updates on House and Senate Actions
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.
CWN and others supported the Soil and Wetlands Conservation Amendment, championed successfully by Senators Chambliss (GA) and Ben Cardin (MD) in the Senate. The amendment would modernize the soil and wetland conservation provisions by reattaching highly erodible land (HEL) and wetland conservation to the receipt of federal crop and revenue insurance premium subsidies. This important amendment would ensure that taxpayer funds are not rewarding agricultural producers who are draining wetlands or farming highly erodible land without conservation measures. Unfortunately a companion amendment for the House bill did not successfully materialize.
It is also critically important that a sodsaver provision be a national, rather than a regional program. A national sodsaver provision was included in the final Senate bill, but the House bill only includes a regional provision. Sodsaver limits the amount of federal subsidies a farmer can get on native prairie land that they decide to convert to cropland. This provision is critical for protecting remaining native grasslands. Native grassland is one of the most quickly declining ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on the grasslands are declining at alarming rates. Many of the areas of remaining grassland outside of the Prairie Pothole Region are in drought prone areas. Including a national sodsaver in the Farm Bill will help to strengthen the farm safety net by assuring that limited federal funds are sued to sustain the most productive acres, not to incentivize production on lands that are too dry, marginal or flood-prone to produce good crops. If you have fact sheets or resources materials on the Farm Bill you would like to share, please let us know. We would be happy to post them on this site.
Resources Materials follow:
Other Organization's Fact Sheets & Alerts
- National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Fact Sheet
- NWF Farm Bill Updates
- Funding Breakdown and Comparison by NSAC
- Farm Bureau View on House Farm Bill
- Texas A&M Study on the Economic Impacts of the Safety Net Provisions in Farm Bill
- CBO estimates ten year savings at $35.1 Billion from House Farm Bill and $23.1 Billion from Senate Farm Bill
- National Farmers Union Opinion on Farm Bill
EPA's Analysis on CAFO Regulations, Comment Period Closes Dec. 30
News Article Links
- Factory Farming Series 1, 2 and 3
- Bipartisan Support Emerges for Double-Permitting Measure
- Over 90 Organizations Urge Senate to Support Conservation Amendment
- House Draft Ignores Conservation
- More the $6 billion cut from Conservation Programs in FARRM 2012
- FARRM statement from Food and Water Watch
- House Agriculture Committee agrees to FARRM Markup
- FARRM; the next five years
- USDA Sec. Vilsack Criticizes Cuts from House Farm Bill
- Environmental Working Group Criticizes Cuts from House Farm Bill
- Politico Analysis of Senate and House Farm Bill Differences
- House drought bill taps conservation funds to pay for disaster assistance
- Declaration to Investigate American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)
- "Farmers Urge Congress to Act on Farm Bill"
- "Climate Change Not Likely To Harm Ag (Claims AFBF)"
- What the AFBF Lobbies for in Congress
- EPA Drops Rule To Require Basic Information on Water Pollution
- AFBF wants you to urge Congress to deregulate parts of the Clean Water Act
- AFBF Urges Congress to Pass Farm Bill
- Soil and Wetlands Conservation Amendment - Support letter
- Farm Bill CWA Attacks Letter
- Hold the Line (Conservation funding)
- November 2012 letter to Speaker Boehner urging support for conservation programs in Farm Bill.
Thank you Letters
- Hypothetical EPA Meeting on CAFO Rules
Politico Article on Farm Bill Amendments: Both Clean Water Network and our Fact Sheet on the Farm Bill are mentioned in this Politico article on 6/17/12. The Fact Sheet details a number of dangerous amendments being considered for the Farm Bill that threaten our nation's waters.