May 09, 2007

CARDIN, MIKULSKI TEAM UP TO FIGHT FOR CHESAPEAKE BAY IN FARM BILL

Susan Sullam: 410-962-4436


WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today introduced legislation to dramatically boost federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay clean-up effort. The Chesapeake's Healthy and Environmentally Sound Stewardship of Energy and Agriculture Act of 2007 (CHESSEA) will allocate funding in the upcoming multi-year agriculture reauthorization bill (farm bill) for water quality improvement and farm viability in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"The Chesapeake Bay is not only Maryland's greatest natural resource, it's part of who we are as Marylanders - our heritage and our culture. Maryland communities and farmers want to do right by the Bay, but they can't do it on their own," said Senator Mikulski. "That's why I'm proud to fight for the Chesapeake's Healthy and Environmentally Sound Stewardship of Energy and Agriculture Act of 2007 with my Team Maryland colleagues to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay."

"Healthy farms are essential for a healthy Chesapeake Bay," said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "This bill is a win-win for everyone because it gives farmers the resources they need for the agricultural conservation programs while helping them succeed economically. At the same time, it improves the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its many tributaries."

The CHESSEA Act will give farmers the necessary tools to reduce agricultural run-off in the Bay. It expands several farm bill programs that are up for reauthorization this year and provides funding for additional conservation and renewable energy practices.

Specifically, the bill provides more financial and technical assistance for the farmers in the watershed by making the criteria for existing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs more Bay-friendly. It creates a $10 million a year Bay technical assistance pilot program from 2008 to 2013 for comprehensive conservation planning, design and implementation. It also provides energy-related grants and loans to farmers and businesses for converting biomass to fuels and energy, purchasing renewable energy systems, and making energy efficiency improvements.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced a companion bill to this legislation in the House of Representatives in March. The farm bill will be considered by Congress in June.