Americans have never been more interested in their food and how it’s grown. And the disturbing reality is that the way most of our food is grown today hurts families, threatens future generations of farmers and squanders our natural heritage.
Across the nation, food and drinking water is being polluted with fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics are becoming less effective and millions of acres of prairie and wetland are being lost forever.
Although many farmers do grow food in responsible ways, many more would do so if the government’s broken farm policies did more to reward good stewardship and didn’t encourage unsustainable crop and animal production.
The Balancing Act would provide full funding for the Department of Agriculture’s oversubscribed conservation programs, which help and reward farmers who take steps to produce food in ways that don’t harm families, farms and environment. The bill would also require that farmers who receive crop insurance subsidies to adopt basic environmental protections.
What’s more, the Balancing Act would reform USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Reserve Program to reduce the use of pesticides and unnecessary antibiotics and to provide long-term protection of wetlands and prairies. The bill also encourages greater farmer-to-farmer collaboration by delivering more support to groups of farmers who work together to protect drinking water supplies.
As members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees work on drafting a new farm bill, they have so far missed huge opportunities to expand these conservation programs and make every dollar count. Instead, they are choosing to cut these programs while spending even more on misguided crop insurance subsidies that encourage unsustainable farming practices. And they’re doing this at a time when millions of acres of wetlands and prairie are already being lost and America’s food and water is being polluted with pesticides and fertilizers.
By: Scott Faber, Vice President of Government Affairs