Shaheen Helps Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Support Farmers Affected by PFASOctober 21, 2022
(Washington, DC) – In a bipartisan, bicameral effort to provide vital assistance to farmers affected by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) to introduce the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act. U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Jared Golden (ME-02) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.?The legislation would authorize grants for states to provide financial assistance to affected farmers, expand monitoring and testing, remediate prevalent PFAS or even help farmers relocate.
PFAS are man-made “forever” chemicals that are used in industry and consumer products and can lead to serious health effects. PFAS contamination has prevented some farms from selling their products, creating financial hardship for affected family farmers.?
“The more we look for PFAS, the more we understand how widespread these chemicals are, and unfortunately our farming community is no exception. That’s why it’s imperative that we have a robust federal response for industries and communities that have been adversely impacted through no fault of their own so they can keep people safe and operations running,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bipartisan, bicameral proposal is a comprehensive approach to help farmers who’ve been hard hit by PFAS exposure, and it addresses everything from educational programs for individuals affected to increased water and soil testing and remediation. Our farmers face enough challenges and adversity from uncontrollable shifts in our climate and economy – reacting to an expansive and troubling issue like PFAS contamination shouldn’t be another hurdle they have to face alone.”
Specifically, the funds authorized by the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act could be used for a variety of purposes at the state level, including:
- More capacity for PFAS testing for soil or water sources;
- Blood monitoring for individuals to make informed decisions about their health;
- Equipment to ensure a farm remains profitable during or 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 experiencing PFAS contamination; and
- Research on soil and water remediation systems, and the viability of those systems for farms.
The bill would also create a task force at USDA charged with identifying other USDA programs to which addressing PFAS contamination should be added as an eligible activity. ?This would help bring even more resources to farmers through existing programs. ?Additionally, the task force would provide technical assistance to states to help them coordinate their responses effectively.
Senator Shaheen leads efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. Shaheen has fought to secure consistent federal support for the PFAS health impact study that?she established?four years ago.?Because of?her efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. As a?lead negotiator?of water provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure law, Shaheen secured record-level funding to upgrade drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and address PFAS contamination, including $72 million in grants to New Hampshire announced by the Environmental Protection Agency last month.?
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