The Newly Passed FARM Act Makes Unreported Farm Pollutants Legal Again

This post is the first in a series—Connecting Agriculture Policy to Your Health—by CLF-Lerner Fellow Lacey Gaechter.

Last year the US District Court of Appeals took a huge step forward to protect public health from pollutants released by industrial-scale livestock facilities. This March, however, Congress negated the Court’s ruling when it passed the FARM Act. It was easy to miss this undermining of the 2017 decision since Congress rolled the FARM Act into the 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill as a rider.

What is the FARM Act?

The federal Fair Agriculture Reporting Method (FARM) Act is a formal, legislatively guaranteed exemption for industrial-scale livestock producers to the laws requiring other industries to report releases of hazardous materials. Read More >

Happy 25th Anniversary, Chesapeake Bay

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort. In the two and half decades since the landmark Bay action agenda was agreed to, Maryland’s watershed clean up initiative has received mixed reviews on its success. As the Washington Post noted, “Despite a quarter-century of work, the bay’s biggest problem — pollution-driven “dead zones,” where fish and crabs can’t breathe — has not significantly improved.” Yet there are important environmental improvement initiatives on the way.

The Post’s editorial page yesterday hailed Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s efforts to protect the Chesapeake by limiting further development along the Maryland shoreline and enacting new measures limiting agriculture runoff from chicken farms, the leading source of harmful nitrogen and phosphorous found in the Bay.

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Loos for Livestock

Water-based sewage disposal, first introduced into the United States around the turn of the 19th century, provided a more expedient, and seemingly more hygienic, system to dispose of human waste. But these systems lead to increases in water use for waste disposal and increased pollution to surface and groundwater.

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