Washington, DC – Yesterday, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), along with twelve other Representatives, introduced H.R. 1890, the Balancing Food, Farm, and Environment Act (the Balancing Act), which modernizes the Farm Bill’s conservation title to reflect the needs of a changing agricultural system and the American public’s priorities.
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The Balancing Act:
- Streamlines conservation programs, and prioritizes long-term results to protect the taxpayers’ investment;
- Encourages local and regional partnerships to tackle local conservation needs, and allows them to implement performance-based standards, rather than process-based standards;
- Provides support and technical assistance to farmers facing modern-day challenges, including food safety concerns, water quality issues, and a public interested in more sustainable farming practices;
- Prioritizes investment for our most pressing conservation issues, including helping farmers address a changing climate, transitioning off of antibiotic-intensive practices, and reducing pesticide use; and
- Focuses federal dollars where they have the most impact, encourages local and private investment, and limits the amount of payments that can go to any one producer.
“People all across the country, from farmers to city-dwellers, understand the importance of conservation,” said Blumenauer. “Unfortunately, the conservation title we designed in the 1980s no longer addresses America’s most important priorities, is difficult for farmers to navigate, and forces a one-size-fits-all policy on a varied landscape. The Balancing Act fixes these problems.”
Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico is introducing companion legislation to Blumenauer’s conservation bill in the Senate. "Farmers and the American public recognize that conservation of our resources is good for our crops, our land and our nation's future," said Udall. "America's farmers have a long history of innovation and adaption of new technologies and practices. Our legislation would encourage those who seek to implement new practices that increase quality production through sound management of our precious resources."
“Congressman Blumenauer’s Balancing Act helps farmers be good wildlife stewards while also supplying an abundant and safe food supply for our nation,” said Robert Dewey, Vice President of Government Relations and External Affairs for Defenders of Wildlife. “The bill provides farmers with resources to protect and restore wetlands and waterways that are important for wildlife conservation; funding for innovative farming techniques to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and incentives to reduce the use of pesticides. Congressman Blumenauer’s bill is a home-run for farmers, consumers and wildlife.”
Congress originally created the Farm Bill’s conservation title to reward farmers for taking actions that protect the environment and benefit the general public. Polls show that farmers and urban Americans alike continue to believe that the conservation title’s role in the Farm Bill should be maintained or increased.
"Many farmers are already growing food in ways that protect our families, preserve the productivity of our soil, and protect our natural heritage," said Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group. "Many more farmers would produce food in the same way if U.S. farm policy did more to reward stewardship and encourage sustainable farming. America's families, farmers, and food are worth protecting. That's why EWG is proud to support the Balancing Act."
“The Farm Bill should be an environmental bill,” continued Blumenauer. “Our farmers are some of the best stewards of the land, but we haven’t given them the tools to support them or helped them address our most pressing environmental needs. We can do that, and reduce the red tape they face when applying to these programs. It’s possible to keep our water clean, our soil healthy, and help our wildlife thrive, while ensuring that people have access to affordable responsibly-raised food.”
The original cosponsors of the Balancing Act are Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24), Rep. John Dingell (MI-12), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Rep. Sam Farr (CA-20), Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12), Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02), Rep. Ron Kind (WI-03), Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Rep. George Miller (CA-11), Rep. Jim Moran (VA-08), Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Rep. Henry Waxman (CA-33).