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WASHINGTON - This afternoon, the U.S. Senate passed a Farm Bill free of several anti-sustainability and anti-health provisions that were included in the House version, by a vote of 86 to 11. Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG Toxics Director, issued the following joint statement with Bart Johnsen-Harris, Clean Water Advocate for Environment America:
“We cannot grow healthy food without clean water and proper stewardship of our land. Today, the Senate recognized that fact by passing a Farm Bill free of attacks on core public health and environmental protections. We congratulate Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for their hard work to keep the Senate version of the Farm Bill clean.
Overall, the Senate bill is a good starting point from which to strengthen and expand sustainable agriculture, though stronger environmental provisions should be included in future versions of the Farm Bill. Although the Senate maintains overall funding for conservation programs in the Bill, it does not significantly increase funding for sustainability, and it cuts some crucial funds to expand other programs.
Senate leadership wisely kept proposals off the final bill that would have exempted pesticide pollution from the Clean Water Act; pesticides have contributed to more than 1,800 instances of water pollution across the country.
Unfortunately, the House version of the Farm Bill was loaded with these and other attacks on the environment, including:
Pre-empting state and local laws aimed at health and environmental impacts of factory farms;
Severely undermining vital bedrock environmental laws including the Clean Water Act;
Eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program, the nation's largest land conservation program in terms of acreage.
Poisoning our water and land to grow our food makes no sense. As Congress works to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill, we urge lawmakers to give us a final package that eschews attacks on public health and promotes sustainable agriculture.”
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