| The Latest on the Farm Bill
Photo courtesy of NRCS.
We Need Them to Get This Right!
Congress is finally in the last stage of writing a bill that is very important for the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint: The Farm Bill. Both the House and Senate have passed their own versions of this bill and they are moving forward on working out their differences in a final bill that will be written by a conference committee. All of the conferees—the 41 members of both the House and Senate who will iron out the details of the final bill—have been appointed, and they are scheduled to get to work on October 28.
We need them to hurry. Important programs for the Bay watershed have expired and many farmers have planned improvements to their farms that will help improve water quality in our rivers and streams—but they cannot afford to move forward without federal support.
During the conference, they are also making final decisions about a new program that could really help the Bay: The Regional Conservation Partnership Program. We need them to get this right. This new program will provide targeted support for areas of the country with particularly difficult conservation issues, like the water quality issues we have in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Most members of Congress from our watershed believe the Senate has created the best version of this program and are encouraging their leadership in the House to agree to accept that version during the conference. In fact, this fall, they joined with members from the Great Lakes and wrote a bipartisan letter to their leadership. In this letter, they said:
"The Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes are national treasures and economic engines in their respective regions, but they face significant water quality concerns. We believe that the Senate [version of the] Regional Conservation Partnership Program . . . would provide the best opportunity to support the farmers in our states and achieve important conservation gains and urge you to include it in the final conference agreement."
We wholeheartedly agree and are doing all we can to support them.