The House Agriculture Committee recently passed its draft of the 2018 Farm Bill (H.R.2) to the House floor for consideration. The bill doesn’t even mention sustainable production methods like aquaponics, hydroponics, vertical growing or greenhouse growing.
The Farm Bill is passed only once every five years, and it allocates over $100 billion to ensure an adequate national supply of food and nutrition.
Aquaponics growers employ water-based, recirculating systems of fish and plants that can grow fresh produce from the rooftops of New York City to the deserts of New Mexico. In every state across the country, aquaponics growers are supplying markets and restaurants; growing for their own diet; teaching STEM education; and contributing to sustainability research.
Unfortunately, the current House Farm Bill ignores aquaponics and hydroponics. Instead, it continues excessive support for industrial monocrop agriculture, characterized by: thousands of acres of one single crop; wasteful water usage; average crop travel distances over 1,000 miles; toxic nutrient runoff; and widespread use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and antibiotics.
At a time when our planet is dealing with rapid population growth, resource depletion, and environmental problems, why is our government ignoring the most sustainable growing methods?
In February, 2018, The Aquaponics Association Farm Bill Coalition sent a message to Congress asking that aquaponics be treated on a level playing-field with all other forms of agriculture. The letter included over 200 signatures from aquaponics growers.
There are small signs of progress. A Member of Congress has drafted an amendment to define aquaponics and specifically include it in a subset of Farm Bill programs. They have reached out to our Coalition, and we are in the process of collecting and providing feedback.
The progress to date is a small fraction of what’s necessary to create real change. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or anything in between, the Farm Bill will be spending your tax dollars on agriculture. Let’s make sure aquaponics, hydroponics, and other forms of sustainable agriculture are included.
If you’d like to get involved, you can join the Aquaponics Association 2018 Farm Bill Coalition. We’ll be organizing another letter campaign in the upcoming weeks.
Please let us know about your experiences working with the USDA or other food policy-makers.
Brian Filipowich, Chairman