Organic agriculture and other conservation programs help keep harmful pesticides out of our water. This benefits our multi-billion dollar West Coast salmon fishery, and makes agriculture safer for people, too.
Did you know that organic farms rely on important conservation programs and several “tiny but mighty” Farm Bill programs that promote sustainable and organic agriculture? These programs need Farm Bill authorization to continue helping family farms. These programs invested nearly a half-billion dollars into American food and farm systems over the last 4 years, supporting organic farming, helping beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, and promoting rural economic development.
The Farm Bill is in conference right now, meaning a committee will decide how to combine the two versions of the bill that passed, but substantial differences remain between the Senate and House versions. Right now we are very concerned about the House version and we need your support for the Senate version while the conference leaders hammer out their differences.
It’s important to weigh in soon. Calling your senator and/or representative (connect via the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121) while the conference committee makes final decisions will affect Northwest local food systems and the environment. Ask your elected official to work with the conference committee leaders (Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Representative Mike Conaway (R-TX), and Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN), and include these points:
- Northwest states will be affected. Agricultural practices are a big contributor to riverine health. Sustainable agriculture helps fish and our drinking water.
- The Senate version passed with 86 votes – the most bipartisan Farm Bill ever. Keep the momentum by passing the Senate version—that excludes the harmful environmental pesticide riders; supports conservation programs, and maintains the tiny but mighty sustainable agriculture programs.
- The House version is bad for sustainable agriculture and our environment. It includes several harmful environmental riders that would substantially weaken protections from pesticide exposure for water, local communities, farm workers, and fish. The harmful riders are at Sec. 9101, 9111, 9112, 9113, 9114, 9115, 9116, 9117, 9118, 9119, 9121, 11614, and 11617. Read more on our blog post here.
- The House version proposes to eliminate the nation's largest and only comprehensive conservation program - the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
- In August, 107 House representatives sent a letter to the Farm Bill conference leaders strongly opposing the riders in the House Farm Bill, urging support for Farm Bill conservation programs, and urging pushback against cuts to SNAP program. See the letter here.