Encouraging Risky CAFOs in the Age of Climate Change

Cover Photo: Hogs swimming through floods in Duplin County, NC. NPR | Kelly Guerin   Earlier this month Hurricane Dorian tore through the Southeast United States and the Bahamas. It devastated the Carolinas, spawning nearly two dozen tornadoes and leaving 418,000 people without power in the region. Of particular concern is the massive flooding in North Carolina, a state which…

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The 2018 Farm Bill Is Surprisingly Climate-Conscious

Originally published at American College for Environmental Lawyers Cross-posted with permission from the author Roughly every five years, Congress revises and renews the Farm Bill to fund our nation’s food security, nutrition, and farm conservation programs. The 2018 Farm Bill, which passed with large bipartisan majorities in both chambers, is surprisingly climate-conscious. Its successes will serve as a foundation upon…

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Fixing The Floodgates: The Need To Link Disaster Relief And Climate Change Resilience — Part Two

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, farmers across the Southeast face devastating losses to this year’s harvest and livestock operations. Through the Farm Bill and other authorizing statutes, Congress has created several programs that allow farmers to receive financial assistance after a natural disaster. These USDA programs go far in helping affected individuals recover and move forward. However, USDA disaster relief programs…

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Fixing the Floodgates: The Need to Link Disaster Relief and Climate Change Resilience — Part One

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, farmers across the Southeast face devastating losses to this year’s harvest and livestock operations. Through the Farm Bill and other authorizing statutes, Congress has created several programs that allow farmers to receive financial assistance after a natural disaster. These USDA programs go far in helping affected individuals recover and move forward. However,…

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FBLE Brings Farm Bill Recommendations to Capitol Hill

Last week 25 FBLE faculty, students, and staff descended on Capitol Hill to share our research and help Congress write a farm bill that creates opportunity for all farmers, provides a reliable safety net against hunger, and conserves the health of our shared natural resources. FBLE timed the trip to coincide with debate over the House farm bill, H.R. 2, which…

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Connecting the Dots: Rob Verchick and Laurie Ristino Talk Food Security and Climate Change

Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) President Rob Verchick recently sat down to talk with me about the connections between climate change, food security, and policymaking tools like the Farm Bill that could be better used to promote sustainable agricultural practices. I’m excited to share an audio recording of that conversation as CPR prepares to “soft launch” their new “Connect the Dots” podcast. It’s a…

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Coupling Up: Are Crop Insurance and Conservation Compliance Mated for Life?

This is the final installment of a three-part series devoted to conservation compliance under the farm bill. The first post explained what “conservation compliance” is and why it matters, and the second post highlighted how lack of enforcement undercuts effective protection for soil and water resources. Rounding out the series, this post explains why maintaining the link (or “coupling”) between…

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For Conservation Compliance, Weak Enforcement is a Loss for Taxpayers and the Environment

This is the second in a three-part series devoted to conservation compliance. The first post introduced the conservation compliance sections of the farm bill and explained why they are critical to soil and water quality. This post explains how USDA’s implementation of conservation compliance lacks effective enforcement and transparency. Conservation Requirements Under conservation compliance farmers whose land includes highly erodible…

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Conservation Compliance: The Linchpin of Soil Health and Water Quality

This is the first of a three-part series devoted to farm bill conservation compliance, the foundation of soil and water protection on the majority of land in the United States. Annually, soil erosion caused by agricultural practices costs the United States approximately $44 billion and a loss of 1% of our topsoil. Agricultural nonpoint source pollution (e.g. fertilizer runoff) is…

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Marker Bill Watch: Water Quality Conservation Act

Last month, Congressman David Young of Iowa introduced the Water Quality Conservation Act of 2017 (WQCA). The WQCA is a “marker bill” that seeks to address the issues of nutrient loss, soil erosion and runoff. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, nutrient loss poses a major threat to agriculture and erosion presents the most significant threat of…

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