Statement on Farm Bureau Opposition to the Chesapeake Clean Water Act

Press Statement
August 11, 2010

CBF Statement on Farm Bureau Opposition to the Chesapeake Clean Water Act

(Harrisburg, PA)���The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Pennsylvania Executive Director Matt Ehrhart issued this statement in response to assertions by the National and Pennsylvania Farm Bureaus concerning the Chesapeake Clean Water Act (S. 1816).

"It is true that the Chesapeake Clean Water Act will require all of us to do more. Indeed, even existing federal law requires us to do more. The Farm Bureau has made assertions concerning the Chesapeake Clean Water Act that are not true. They have said the legislation will greatly expand EPA's jurisdiction over farming and require permits for all farmers. That is inaccurate. The legislation clearly recognizes the state's role in determining how best to reduce agricultural runoff, and that each of the states must decide what makes most sense for their farmers.

"Pennsylvania's farmers have made important progress reducing runoff. Leaders in the farm community have found that implementing conservation practices that reduce pollution also improve their bottom line. However, there are many farms that are not in compliance with current Pennsylvania laws and regulations, and this is an area the state will have to address.

"The Farm Bureau has also asserted that the trading program in the Chesapeake Clean Water Act is flawed, because it requires farms to achieve a baseline of practices before they can sell credits. An analysis of the trading program by the World Resources Institute has found that Pennsylvania farmers could achieve the baseline and still significantly improve their bottom line.

The Farm Bureau says that because not all farm conservation practices have been counted by the Bay Program model, that the model should be ignored. CBF agrees that it is imperative that we find a way to count and track all conservation practices and to appropriately credit those landowners. All acknowledge that the model isn't perfect, and work is underway to improve it. That doesn't mean that efforts to reduce pollution should stop.

"Finally, the Chesapeake Clean Water Act is about more than just farming. It creates a framework to reduce pollution, allows the states flexibility in how to get there, and authorizes significant new resources to provide technical assistance for farmers and to help local jurisdictions reduce pollution from urban and suburban runoff, while creating jobs and providing economic benefits to the region."

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