Anti-public health Farm Bill fails in House

Media Contacts
Kara Cook-Schultz


WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives has voted down the Farm Bill (H.R. 2) by a vote of 198-213. The bill was loaded with provisions that would have put public health at risk and increased the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides. House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI) has called for a motion to reconsider.

Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG’s Toxics Director, stated: “This bill was anti-public health, and did little to help small farmers, while subsidizing industrial farming. The American people are not on board, and if subsequent versions of this bill don’t help the average American more, Congress should vote down those bills as well. We deserve a Farm Bill that’s good for healthy farms, healthy food and healthy families.”

The rejected bill would have allowed large agrochemical companies to dump toxic pesticides and chemicals into our rivers, lakes and drinking water. It would have also undermined efforts by farmers who want to produce healthier food with fewer chemicals. 

Farmers such as Iowa native Seth Watkins want to farm their land sustainably, safeguarding the land for future generations. Mr. Watkins said, “I just want us to stop subsidizing the wrong things.”

This bill did not encourage sustainable farming. Part of today’s Farm Bill included a poisoned waters provision that would exempt agricultural pesticide pollution from the Clean Water Act, even though in recent years, agricultural pesticides have contributed to more than 1,800 instances of water pollution across the country.

A viable Farm Bill should foster food security and rural development. Instead, H.R. 2 included rollbacks of public health, sustainable farming and clean water policy. 

Other harmful provisions in H.R. 2 included: 

  • Eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program, the nation’s largest conservation program by acreage.
  • Preempting state and local laws that protect health and the environment.
  • Eliminating public input and environmental review for a wide range of activities on public lands.
  • Preempting state and local laws that require additional safeguards for food safety and food packaging.

Cook-Schultz added, “We don’t need to poison our water and land to grow our food. We’re calling on Congress to continue to reject these bad policies. It is time to start over with a Farm Bill that promotes healthy food, healthy people and healthy farms.”