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