American Farmland Trust Statement on the Introduction of Legislation to Support PFAS-Impacted Farmers
WASHINGTON, DC – American Farmland Trust (AFT) strongly endorses the bipartisan, bicameral Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act. Introduced by the Maine delegation—Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Golden—the bill would provide much-needed federal funding for States, Tribes, and local governments to support farmers and ranchers impacted by the contamination of their land by so-called “forever chemicals.” It would also help build local capacity to respond to this emerging crisis. Policymakers, service providers, and farmers in Maine have taken the lead in confronting this urgent challenge to our food system and farm economy, and this bill would provide critical federal support for those efforts.
PFAS are a class of human-made chemical compounds that have been widely used in consumer and industrial products since the mid-20th century. They are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their persistence and bioaccumulation in the environment, including in humans and livestock. They have been linked to harmful health effects, including increased risk of certain cancers and thyroid disease, as well as reproductive, developmental, and immune system harms.
In recent years, detection of PFAS in agricultural soils has presented an urgent challenge for farmers, service providers, and policymakers. Although some states, most notably Maine, have been proactive in helping farmers assess risk, test soils, and providing direct assistance to those whose livelihoods may be threatened by exposure, very little is understood about the national scale of the problem, and few resources exist to support impacted producers. As a national leader in farmland protection and farm viability, AFT believes that urgent action is needed on both the State and, in particular, the federal level to address PFAS issues in agriculture.
The Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act would significantly ramp up funding for State- and Tribal-led responses, establish a task force at USDA charged with identifying existing USDA programs that can support impacted producers, and prioritize direct assistance to impacted producers. Specifically, the bill would support:
- More capacity to test soil and water for PFAS;
- Blood monitoring for individuals to make informed decisions about their health;
- Equipment to ensure a farm remains profitable after known PFAS contamination;
- Relocation of a commercial farm if the land is no longer viable;
- Alternative cropping systems or remediation strategies;
- Educational programs for farmers with PFAS contamination; and
- Research on soil and water remediation systems, and the viability of those systems for farms.
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 7 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on a half million additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.