DELMARVA – US Senators and Representatives from Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania have introduced new legislation aimed at helping farmers reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.
The coalition behind The Chesapeake Bay Conservation Acceleration Act (S. 2710) includes Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).
In a press release, Senator Cardin’s office says the new legislative package is meant to tackle runoff pollution from farms that seep into the Chesapeake and its watershed. About one-third of the Bay’s watershed is farmland, Cardin’s office says, and more than 80% of necessary pollution reductions must come from agriculture.
The legislation would reportedly assist farmers in building healthy soils and maintaining vegetations such as forest buffers to reduce pollution and improve flood resistance. Cardin’s office says the practices included in the bill would help farmers cut costs and increase economic resilience through increased crop yields.
“The health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and regional agriculture are intertwined at the heart of our region’s cultural identity and economic wellbeing. We have reason to be optimistic about the health of the Bay, but we must continue to do all we can to support our farmers so they can withstand and overcome the threats to their viability,” said Senator Cardin.
The bill includes a $75 million allocation for fiscal years 2024 through 2027 in conservation assistance, as well as a Watershed Turneky Pilot Program outline meant to make it easier for Chesapeake Bay Watershed states such as Maryland and Virginia to take advantage of the legislation.
Cardin’s office says the legislation is supported by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Choose Clean Water Coalition, Chesapeake Conservancy, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission.
The full text of the Chesapeake Bay Conservation Acceleration Act can be found here.