EWG’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. In the Midwest we pursue our mission by working to move agriculture in a more sustainable direction. Farmland dominates the landscape and watersheds in the Midwest. The way that land is used and managed has profound effects on our health through the water we drink and the food we eat.
Farming can actually make water cleaner and the environment healthier. Farms doing exactly that are scattered across the Midwest. We bring a unique combination of remote-sensing, big data and landscape analysis to bear to build pressure to change policy to heal the damage done by poor farming practices and to build excitement about how much healthier the environment could be through often simple changes in the way we farm.
If you care about the environment, human health or helping small growers, you should support reform of the federal crop insurance program.Read More
Pollution in Minnesota’s drinking water has gotten worse in recent years, but no one wants to call out the industry responsible. It’s been the primary source of water pollution for decades, making water in some areas of the country dangerous to drink and costing local taxpayers millions of dollars to clean it up.
Recently, spring weather in upper Midwest has been warmer and dryer, leading farmers in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota to plant corn in early April. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Progress Report, since 2013 there's been a big rise in corn planted by mid-April, the earliest farmers in the region can plant and be eligible for federally subsidized crop insurance.
The European Union just banned two agricultural weed killers linked to infertility, reproductive problems and fetal development – the first-ever EU ban on endocrine-disrupting pesticides. That’s good news for Europeans. But as in Europe, many endocrine-disrupting weed killers remain widely used on American crops, and from farm fields make their way into drinking water and food.
Crop insurance hikes up the cost of cropland -- bad news for small farmers who own their own land and growers, large and small, who rent acreage from landlords.
Federal crop insurance encourages growers to plant crops on land that is vulnerable to soil erosion and discourages landowners from adopting good conservation practices.Read More
We’re fooling ourselves if we think that voluntary conservation efforts are going to solve the Corn Belt’s dirty water problems.
This week, President Obama released a 2017 fiscal year budget proposal that would save taxpayers more than $18 billion and better protect America’s land and water.
The federal crop insurance program – now the primary way taxpayers support farm income – is coming under increased and well-deserved scrutiny because of its high cost, lack of transparency and environmental implications.Read More
Drinking water, lakes and rivers in Iowa and across the Corn Belt are in serious trouble because of polluted farm runoff. To tackle the problem, for decades we’ve taken the approach favored by agricultural interests – making federal tax dollars available for conservation practices that curb runoff, encouraging farmers to adopt those practices, then hoping enough of them volunteer to do the right thing.
As in past years, EWG asked its staff of scientists, policy analysts and governmental and communications specialists to vote on what they considered the 10 most important stories of 2015 in two categories: stories that relate specifically to agriculture and those that involve general environmental issues. The rest of the agriculture list is below. To see the staff’s ranking of general environmental stories, got to EWG’s Enviroblog.
Greed, at least when it comes to the cotton industry and its lobbyists, isn’t taking a break this holiday season. Cotton farmers cut a sweet deal in the 2014 farm bill. In return for their very own income support program – the Stacked Income Protection Plan, or STAX – the growers agreed they wouldn’t dip into two other federal assistance programs ginned up to stabilize the incomes of growers of corn, wheat and other favored crops.
The cost to taxpayers of providing crop insurance to farmers has more than tripled since 2001, rising from an average of about $3 billion a year in 2001-2003 to more than $10 billion a year in 2012-2014. The increase is largely the result of sharp jumps in the cost of subsidizing both farmers’ premiums and the companies that sell crop insurance.Read More
The congressional budget deal signed by President Obama in early November includes a cost-saving measure that trims the profits taxpayers guarantee the crop insurance industry. The guaranteed rate of return of these companies would drop from 14.5 percent to 8.9 percent, saving $3 billion over the next 10 years.Read More
When you buy home or car insurance, you expect to collect only when there’s a disaster – a tornado, a hailstorm or a collision. If there was a policy that paid out year after year, you only had to pay less than half of the premium and you’d actually make money from buying it, you’d jump at it – but the insurer would be foolish.Read More
Ripped from the pages of an obscure science fiction novel, millions run screaming from the threat of a toxic algal bloom blanketing almost 650 miles of the Ohio River. Regrettably, this story isn’t made up. Officials in the Ohio River basin are scrambling to deal with poisonous slime that may compromise the safety of drinking water, suffocate aquatic life and halt recreational activity for much of the region.
Clean water is vital to sustaining life. Why aren’t we protecting it?
A new law requiring grass “buffers” to be planted between cropland and Minnesota’s rivers and streams is an innovative and important step toward cutting pollution from farm operations, EWG said today.Read More