(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) helped reintroduce bipartisan legislation led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME), the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act, to provide vital assistance to farmers affected by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure.
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 widespread effects of PFAS contamination have dangerous implications for New England’s farmers. As we work in Congress to address the full scope of this pervasive issue, providing financial relief to farmers who are navigating challenges by PFAS contamination is an important first step,” said Senator Shaheen. “The Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act provides a comprehensive approach to helping farmers impacted by these chemicals by establishing educational programs for affected individuals, in addition to increased water and soil testing and remediation. These resources are critical to supporting their operations while broader, systemic actions to prevent, remediate and stop PFAS contamination are underway. I’ll keep working to ensure our farmers and all those impacted by these adverse chemicals have the tools and information they need.”
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:
- Providing financial assistance to affected farmers;
- Building capacity for PFAS testing for soil or water sources;
- Monitoring blood for individuals to make informed decisions about their health;
- Upgrading or purchasing equipment to ensure a farm remains profitable during or after known PFAS contamination;
- Developing alternative production systems or remediation strategies;
- Developing educational programs for farmers experiencing PFAS contamination; and
- Researching 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 fall. In the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 government funding law that Shaheen helped write, she worked to secure support for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address treatment solutions, conduct research and undertake regulatory actions outlined in the PFAS Strategic Roadmap. Shaheen also helped secure more than $224 million in funding for PFAS investigation, testing, remediation and disposal on and around U.S. military installations. The law will provide more than $35 million for aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) removal and remediation. Last month, Shaheen led a letter with 35 Senators to President Biden urging the administration to include funding in the budget request to more comprehensively address PFAS contamination.