The U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill on Friday, and local environmentalists say it’s better than the version that recently came out of the House of Representatives.
The House wants to repeal the Clean Water Rule, a regulation passed in 2015 that defines exactly which bodies of water are protected under the 1972 Clean Water Act, including wetlands and small streams.
However, the Senate rejected that provision.
Clean Water Action, an environmental advocacy group, supports the Senate’s version of the bill, describing it in a statement as relatively free of attacks on the environment.
The group believes the Clean Water Rule should stay in place because without it, they say the quality of drinking water could be harmed.
The Senate Farm Bill also includes more federal crop insurance options for New England shellfish farmers.
Shellfish like oysters and clams can get sick, and that’s risky for farmers who depend on their health to make a living.
The Senate is proposing to allow more types of shellfish to be insured at different life stages to accommodate risks from unexpected weather and illness.
Rhode Island's Democratic U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse pushed for those federal crop insurance options. He said they could help the shellfish industry expand, which he said would benefit the local economy.
The U.S. House and Senate now have to work out the differences in each of their Farm Bills before it can become law.