Senate farm bill draft cleaned of most anti-conservation amendments; House GOP doubles down on them. UPDATED

Farm bill being debated will not permit votes on savage anti-conservation amendments-

The Farm Bill in the Senate originally had over 300 proposed amendments, including several that would be real outdoors wreckers such as deliberately misnamed “Sportsmens Heritage Act“. . A few beneficial amendments that would have truly helped conserve our land and water were dropped too.  One of these was the amendment by Senator Ben Nelson to raise public land grazing fees.

Majority leader Harry Reid hammered out a unanimous consent agreement with other senators that reduced the amendments to be voted on to 70 and eliminated almost all the conservation obnoxious ones such as “the Grazing Improvement Act” which would have made grazing permits on public lands 20 years instead of ten, further entrenching the privileged elite who graze cattle and sheep for essentially nothing while average citizens pay much higher fees to merely picnic.

One remaining fight is over the EPA flying to spot pollution from farm feedlots, etc.  A Democratic amendment would make it so that this is clearly a legal pollution detection option. A Republican amendment would instead outlaw the EPA flying to spot farm pollution.  The later had been ginned up by Fox News which falsely reported that EPA drones were buzzing farms.  Fox News and others, now has egg on their faces, might give a boost to Democrat Barbara Boxer’s amendment to clearly legalize the use of aircraft. Boxer’s office said  A Boxer aide said aerial surveillance is ten times less expensive than on-the-ground investigations.

It is expected that the House version of the Farm Bill now will grow even more anti-conservation so Republican browns have their  amendments in their version of the Farm Bill when it goes to Conference Committee.  However, the Republicans in the House have suddenly pulled back more Farm Bill consideration until after July 4.

To make sure, the House is now voting some of these onto the Interior Appropriations bill for FY2014.  For example, on a near party line vote, the full House just passed an amendment to create 100-mile strips south of the Canadian border and north of the Mexican border where environmental protection laws would not apply to the national parks, national forests and wilderness areas because of the need for the border Patrol to use all available means to curtail the drugs trafficking. Because some of America’s most treasured lands lie in these zones, there will be a fight in the Senate and it might become a presidential race issue.


  1. Demarcated Landscapes Avatar

    The House Bill that included the revocation of protection for lands within 100 miles of the border also contained a section to gut environmental oversight on public lands grazing. Rep. Labrador’s Grazing Improvement Act was part of the HR 2578 omnibus- doubles grazing permits to 20 years, limits NEPA review, etc. The border bill is bad, but the grazing bill doesn’t even have the (dubious) excuse of national security. It’s a straight-up shot at the effectiveness of groups like Western Watersheds Project and affects 260 million acres of public lands.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    The Senate passed the Farm Bill today. In doing so, they voted down the anti-conservation amendment by Senator Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska)that would have banned the EPA from discovering farm pollution by flying. Democrat Max Baucus of Montana added a bill to “streamline” logging of dead trees on the national forests. George Wuerther comments on this. George Wuerthner comments on this amendment in The Wildlife News today.

    The House has been considering their version of the Farm Bill which is full of anti-conservation riders. However, Majority Leader Cantor has ordered it stopped until at least until after the 4th of July. Some are saying that Cantor might direct the House to abandon trying to pass a farm bill now, or at all, if it will give Republicans some kind of electoral advantage in November. The Farm Bill is the bill that authorizes food stamps, which most of today’s Republicans don’t like.


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Ralph Maughan