Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, issued the following statement in response to President Bush’s updated fiscal 2009 budget request to the Congress, which was released on Friday, August 1, 2008. Among the proposed changes in the budget, President Bush wants to eliminate funding for the new Chesapeake Bay Watershed program enacted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.
“President Bush’s proposal to kill the new Chesapeake Bay farm bill funding belongs in the Bay’s dead zone,” Senator Cardin said. “He is wrong on the science, wrong on our farmers’ needs and wrong if he thinks the Congress will go along with this proposal.”
The 87,000 farms in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed account for about 25 percent of the land but contribute 39 percent of the nitrogen and 42 percent of the phosphorus entering the Bay. Agriculture’s percentage of these pollutants has increased since 1985, and it is the Chesapeake’s single largest polluting source. Agriculture also contributes about 63 percent of the Bay’s sediment loading and some toxic chemicals through pesticide use.
“The President does not seem to understand that reducing pollution from farms is the least expensive way to control the excess nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that pollute the Chesapeake Bay,” said Senator Cardin. “To achieve clean water goals for the Bay the states have drafted cost-effective plans that call for more than doubling agricultural conservation practices above current levels. All of these expanded agricultural conservation practices are supported by the new Chesapeake Bay Watershed Farm Bill program.”
The President’s supplemental budget proposal must be approved by the Congress during its annual funding process.