Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) today praised final passage of the Conference Report on the Farm Bill for its benefits to Maryland’s farmers and the continuation of a strong foundation for restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The legislation, which passed with bipartisan support 68-32, now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.
“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure that we all have responsibility to protect and restore. I worked hard to ensure that the Farm Bill we are sending to President Obama delivers on our responsibilities to the Bay. The Farm Bill will continue to provide Maryland farmers with the resources they need to ensure their ability to continue to do their part to conserve the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Senator Cardin.
“Agriculture is Maryland’s number one industry despite the great challenges that come with farming in our state. Pressure from developers is compounded by the water quality concerns that persist in the Bay and its tributaries causing farms to meet extremely high standards of operation to prevent sediment and nutrient loss. But Maryland farmers understand how valuable a healthy Chesapeake Bay is: a healthier Bay means better water and soil for regional farming and a healthier overall economy for the region and the nation.
“I was proud to champion the effort to ensure a more level the playing field for Maryland farmers who have been good stewards of the watershed but forced to compete with producers whose costs are lower because their operations are located in states that do not have the same environmental concerns. The bill passed by Congress re-establishes that farmers must protect highly erodible lands and wetlands in order to qualify for crop insurance premium assistance. In Maryland, these practices are commonplace not just because our farmers want help protect the Bay but because our state requires farmers to manage for wetland and soil loss.”
Senator Cardin expressed his concern that the final bill makes cuts to critical programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that are significantly deeper than the reductions made in the Senate-passed bill, although far less than the extreme measures wanted by the House of Representatives. “I believe in a strong, robust SNAP program that provides resources to Americans in need. This is not the time to be cutting off core safety net programs that help families put food on the table for their children,” Senator Cardin added.