If you had to name the federal government’s biggest investment in the environment, would you pick the EPA?
If you did, you’d be wrong.
The conservation section or “title” of the federal farm bill represents the single largest expenditure of tax dollars to protect water and soil, sequester green house gases, and preserve wildlife habitat. The bill sets up and funds initiatives like the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to stop cultivating fragile, highly erodible land, and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which helps them implement pollution control measures such as planting grass buffers between stream banks and farm fields.
These programs matter because industrial agriculture, not manufacturing, gas drilling or mining, is the largest contributor to water pollution in America, and the list of waters fouled by agricultural runoff grows each day: Chesapeake Bay, Minnesota’s Lake Pepin, the Gulf of Mexico, and on and on.