House Farm Bill Is Bad For Public Health

Media Contacts
Kara Cook-Schultz


WASHINGTON – This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives began the debate on a Farm Bill (H.R. 2), which is loaded with provisions that attack public health and that would increase the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides. Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG’s Toxics Director, stated:

 “Today, Congress is considering a bill that would allow large agrichemical companies to dump toxic pesticides and chemicals into our rivers, lakes, and drinking water. It would undermine efforts by farmers who want to use better farming practices to produce healthier food with less chemicals. Farmers like Iowa native Seth Watkins want to farm their land sustainably, safeguarding the land for future generations. But this bill does not encourage sustainable farming. Part of today’s Farm Bill includes 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.

The Farm Bill should foster food security and rural development. Instead, the bill being debated on the House floor today is loaded with attacks on public health, sustainable farming, and clean water. Other harmful provisions in H.R. 2 include: 

  • Eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program, the nation’s largest conservation program by acreage.

  • Pre-empting state and local laws to protect health and the environment.

  • Eliminating public input and environmental review for a wide range of activities on public lands.

  • Preempt state and local laws that require additional safeguards for food safety and food packaging.

Several amendments could make this already-questionable Farm Bill even worse. Two separate amendments — offered by Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA) and Paul Gosar (WY), and by Rep. Jim Banks (IN) — would wipe out Clean Water Act protections for half of our nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands.

The notion that we should poison our water and land to grow our food is unconscionable. We’re calling on Congress to reject these rollbacks and start over with a Farm Bill that promotes healthy food, healthy people, and healthy farms.”