WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) Thursday were joined by their Chesapeake Bay-state colleagues in urging Senate and Agriculture Committee leadership to dedicate $750 million in natural resources conservation funding for the watershed in upcoming reconciliation legislation. Co-signers of the letter included U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
“Our constituent farmers have worked diligently to reduce nutrient and sediment pollutant loads, despite growing pressures including climate change impacts,” the senators write. “This progress places the Chesapeake Bay Program, of which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a federal agency partner, at the forefront of large-scale ecosystem restoration efforts. However, an additional 50 million pounds of nitrogen was identified to achieve the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint by 2025, and more than 80-percent of the reduction must derive from agriculture. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs are critical to close this gap.”
In August 2021, Senate Democrats passed the FY22 Budget Resolution, which includes instructions to enact President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. The chairs of the committees are currently working to develop the specific policy proposals that would be enacted in the Reconciliation bill.
“Fortunately, many conservation practices such as rotational grazing and riparian buffers that cost-effectively reduce nutrients and sediment to local waters and the Chesapeake Bay are also highly effective at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and helping farms adapt to climate change,” the members continue. “Each watershed state has identified its most effective basins, areas where projects will improve water quality the most. Increased technical and financial assistance for resilient practices in the most effective basins is the fastest, most efficient way USDA can support farmers in making progress toward the partnership’s clean water and climate change goals.”