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Monday, March 24, 2014
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EWG’s Craig Cox to Discuss the Farm Bill in March 26 Webinar

By Guest Author, Avana Andrade, Yale F&ES '15

On Wednesday, March 26, the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy will begin the fourth and final chapter of its Frontiers in Food and Agriculture webinar series. The speakers in this part will address the farm fill and the future of farming. To open this discussion, Craig Cox, the senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, brings us his presentation “The Farm Bill and the Environment: Missed Opportunities and Where to Next.” Cox’s talk will focus on the immense importance of the farm bill in stemming the tide of soil erosion and loss of wildlife across 50 percent of US land. He will discuss the environmental implications of the new 2014 farm bill while highlighting the limits of the legislation in bringing our agricultural system more in tune with natural ecology.

The farm bill drives one of the most environmentally intensive, and economically important, uses of land in the US: farming. While we may not immediately think of the farm bill as “environmental,” the impact that it has in regulating the conditions under which farmers grow corn and soybeans is environmental in every way. On February 7, Obama signed the farm bill, or the Agriculture Act of 2014, an act that influences multiple realms of the American economy from food stamps to rural economic development. Since its signing, many have pointed out the bill’s deficiencies, especially with regard to its cuts to the food stamp program, or SNAP. The farm bill does support some organic agriculture expansion, and seeks to address problems such as erosion and nutrient runoff, agricultural chemical pollution, and the impact of agriculture on climate change and wildlife. 

Organizations such as the Environmental Working Group, however, have pointed out that the bill stimulates “the kind of overproduction that has devastated natural areas in the past.” The bill’s expanded subsidies, the Group argues, aid the country’s biggest farms in environmentally costly practices that dominate the industry. Cox’s talk, therefore, will give listeners a unique look into the workings of a highly relevant piece of legislation and the importance it holds for this country’s ecological future.

Craig Cox is the senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group. His long-time work in conservation began as a field biologist in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and brought him onto the Board on Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences, where he served as a Senior Staff Officer. Cox has also served on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and in the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service as a Special Assistant to the Chief. Before coming to the Environmental Working Group, Cox worked as the Director of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.

To register for this event please see the following link: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/438700079.

To see the remainder of our spring webinars please see the following link: http://envirocenter.yale.edu/events.

Avana Andrade is a first year Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She earned her B.A. in International Studies and Western European History at Colorado State University in 2010. Before returning to school, she worked as a public historian and backcountry ranger with the Student Conservation Association and the National Park Service in both Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Her work has focused on the history of grazing and cultural resource management in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Canyonlands National Park. Work and recreation on the Colorado Plateau motivates her primary interest in grad school, environmental conflict mediation. Avana is a Colorado native and an avid backpacker and gardener.

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