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E-M:/ Farm Bill Moves in the Right Direction

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>

Folks:  This is important for Michigan -- conservation protection and
assuring that animal factories aren't getting additional subsidies at the
expense of traditional farm operations. See below:    Anne Woiwode

November 1, 2001

Ed Hopkins, 202-675-7908
Brett Hulsey, 608-257-4994


Washington, DC- The Sierra Club today welcomed Senator Tom Harkin's (D-IA)
proposal as a major improvement over the House version of the farm bill and
current law.  Senator Harkin's bill would provide more money to help
farmers safeguard clean water, protect wetlands, and prevent suburban
sprawl.  Senator Harkin's legislation would increase funding for
conservation programs that the House Farm Bill sorely neglected and would
hold corporate factory farms responsible for their pollution.

"The House turned its back on family farms and clean water but we are
grateful that Senator Harkin is working to protect them,"  said Ed Hopkins,
Director of the Sierra Club's Environmental Quality Program.

Senator Harkin's bill would increase wetlands protected by the Wetlands
Reserve Program to 250,000 acres per year, 100,000 acres per year more than
the House-passed bill.  Wetlands act as a filter to clean polluted water,
protect against flooding and provide wildlife habitat.  Senator Harkin's
proposal would increase funding to protect farmland from suburban sprawl,
boosting it to $250 million annually by the end of the five-year period.
The House bill authorizes only $50 million per year.  In addition, the bill
incorporates a new provision, the Conservation Security Act, which rewards
farmers who protect water, air, soil and wildlife.

Senator Harkin's bill also makes major improvements over the House's
provision concerning animal waste.  Manure runoff from fields and leaky
storage pits is a major source of water pollution. The House bill would
provide potentially billions of dollars in federal subsidies to large,
industrial-scale livestock operations controlled by major corporations.  In
contrast, Senator Harkin's bill dedicates this money to smaller,
family-sized livestock farmers, to help them stop pollution by building
manure management systems.

"Taxpayers do not and should not pay auto factories, chemical manufacturers
and other businesses to comply with the Clean Water Act, and we should not
subsidize industrial livestock operations to obey the law either," Hopkins

Shifting funds away from supporting overproduction of commodities and
toward meeting conservation needs would benefit the environment and improve
the health of the agricultural economy.  Although this bill makes
improvements over current law and the House Farm Bill, it continues to
subsidize overproduction of commodities, which limits conservation funding.
More money is still needed for conservation programs.

"We urge the Senate to help farmers take fragile land out of production,
create buffer strips and take other steps to protect clean water and set
aside areas for wildlife habitat," continued Hopkins.  "Many farmers want
to participate in voluntary conservation programs but simply can't afford
to do so."

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