Farm Policy Roundup – September 20, 2013

Rancher with lassoNutrition Bill Passes in House of Representatives, Conference Committee Anticipated Soon

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), along with 217 of his colleagues, voted for a bill that will cut nearly $40 billion from nutrition programs. While 210 members of Congress voted against the nutrition bill, this sets up a critical period ahead as we determine what impact passage of the House nutrition bill will have on ability to conference differences between what the House and Senate has passed.

The House of Representatives is expected to name conferees to the Farm Bill conference committee in the coming days, setting a 20-legislative day clock in motion by which the conference committee must complete work before the Congress can instruct conferees on the Farm Bill. This could mean a final version of the Farm Bill could be completed as early as the end of October.

During this negotiation process, conservation must remain a top priority. American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine has a great perspective on the Farm Bill in this week’s The Hill blog. American Farmland Trust supporters sent an overwhelming 25,000 letters to Congress during the August recess supporting finishing the Farm Bill.  There is still time to let your Members of Congress know how important conservation is in this Farm Bill!

EPA Revises Clean Water Act Guidance

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week issued revised guidance on how the Clean Water Act applies to streams, individually or cumulatively, which exert a strong influence on the character and functioning of downstream waters. EPA maintains that all tributary streams, including perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral streams, are physically, chemically and biologically connected to downstream rivers. The revised guidance emphasizes that systematic approaches that are rooted in landscape analysis and which incorporate hydroecological dynamics present in streams and in wetland complexes are more likely to be successful in providing information useful for inferring when and where altered connectivity is a cause of impairment to national water resources.

The full revised guidance is available on EPA’s website.

Court Rules in Favor of EPA on Chesapeake Bay

A federal court judge recently upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority over the Chesapeake Bay cleanup, rejecting arguments by farm groups that EPA lacked authority under the Clean Water Act to impose a total maximum daily load (TMDL) standard for pollutants and had acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner and violated the Administrative Procedures Act.

Click here to review the court’s full decision.

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  • Random Quote

    Changes in the 2012 Farm Bill appear both likely and may be significant, if not radical. Our country’s economic situation will be the most significant driver and agent of change in the 2012 Farm Bill. — Jon Scholl, President, American Farmland Trust