UPDATE, December 20, 2019
After years of work, the 2018 Farm Bill is finally finished! The final farm bill conference report was released on Monday, December 10. From there things moved forward extremely quickly – with the bill passing in both chambers with strong bipartisan support. It passed in the Senate on December 11 with a vote of 87-83 and in the House on December 12 with a vote of 369-47. It is expected to be signed by the President on Thursday, December 20.
Overall, the conference report’s Conservation Title reflects significant wins for the coalition’s priorities for clean water – it protects overall funding for the title (the House version of the bill would have cut almost $800 million in conservation funding over 10 years) and includes several key provisions to improve the effectiveness of and access to conservation programs. Additionally, the bill does not include the harmful anti-environmental riders that were included in the House bill, including those that attacked critical clean water protections. The coalition played a significant role in advocating for key policy reforms and fighting back against anti-environmental riders.
While Clean Water for All did not get everything that was included in our priorities and requests to the farm bill conferees, the final farm bill includes significant wins for clean water and for the coalition’s priorities, and it positions us well to move forward towards implementation in 2019. We will build on these wins through efforts to ensure successful implementation of the policy wins included in the bill, through rulemaking as well as outreach at the state and local level of key opportunities and provisions included in the final bill.
Preventing Polluted Runoff That Causes Toxic Algae Outbreaks
Toxic algae outbreaks are dangerous are more than just smelly and unsightly. They can harm people, wildlife, livestock and pets. Some outbreaks are a big threat to public health and drinking water supplies. A huge toxic algae outbreak in Lake Erie in 2014 left the entire city of Toledo, 500 thousand people, without safe drinking water. Algae outbreaks are caused by many factors – but one of the biggest is runoff contaminated with fertilizer and manure from agricultural operations and farms.
Learn more from Coalition member, Clean Water Action, about how putting drinking water first can help address nutrient pollution.
The Federal Farm Bill is essential to helping reduce polluted agricultural runoff. It is imperative that funding for Farm Bill conservation programs is increased to ensure that these programs con continue to help reduce the agricultural pollution that contribute to these toxic algae outbreaks.
Farm Bill Priorities for a Water-Friendly 2018 Farm Bill
Read our letter to the Senate, on Farm Bill priorities, here.
- Increase funding for the conservation title to support critical working lands, partnership, and easement programs that help to reduce nutrient pollution, protect source water, and protect water quality and availability.
- Protect the linkage between basic conservation requirements and crop insurance and ensure that Sodsaver and Swampbuster provisions stay in place to keep soil out of our waterways and protect wetlands that provide critical water storage and filtration functions.
- Increase access, through funding, technical assistance, and outreach, to Farm Bill conservation and related programs that put conservation tools in the hands of the people and communities who need them most.
- Encourage greater targeting of funds towards areas that need it the most and towards conservation practices that are most effective at protecting drinking water sources and water quality in the places where it is most threatened.
- Improve measurement, reporting, and evaluation of conservation program outcomes to provide data on the impact of conservation programs and practices on water quality outcomes.
Crop Insurance and Water Quality
- Create incentives for, and eliminate barriers to, water-friendly agricultural practices within the Federal Crop Insurance Program.
The next Farm Bill must invest in clean water by ensuring that farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to be conservation leaders and protect our nation’s shared water resources. To do so, we believe the next Farm Bill must reflect these share principles and invest in clean water.