(HARRISBURG, PA)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) calls on Congress to quickly pass a federal Farm Bill that supports Pennsylvania farmers by providing assistance to preserve soil and keep excess nutrients out of local waterways. These "conservation efforts that count" will help Pennsylvania meet its Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint and Milestones goals.
Since 1969, Ag Progress Days, Pennsylvania's largest outdoor agricultural exposition, has provided an opportunity for agricultural producers and leaders to learn about new technologies, conservation practices, and to discuss farm policies, like the Farm Bill. Nearly 50,000 attendees from across the Commonwealth and the nation are expected to attend this year's event, which runs August 13th through the 15th near Rock Springs.
U.S. Representative Glenn Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, along with Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary George Greig, will host a "Barnyard Discussion" on agriculture policy at Ag Progress Days on August 14 at 2:30 p.m.
"This is an important opportunity for Pennsylvania farmers to interact with policy-makers regarding issues that impact the agricultural community," said Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director. "This year, the fate of the federal Farm Bill is front and center, and continued funding for conservation programs must be a priority."
Farm Bill conservation programs help farmers throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Pennsylvania to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution through the implementation of crucial, yet voluntary, conservation efforts. From 2010 through 2012, these on-farm practices helped improve our local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. In Pennsylvania alone, the successes total nearly 100,000 acres of farm improvements like better on-farm nutrient management, planting of cover crops and conservation tillage, and establishing streamside forests that keep soil and nutrients on farm fields and out of waterways.
"Strong conservation programs with proven track records require adequate funding to reach the goals outlined in the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint and to meet our two-year Milestone commitments," said Campbell. "For Pennsylvania farmers it is crucial to have federal support for practices that count towards meeting those goals."
The Farm Bill provides significant conservation funding to improve water quality, yet despite its importance, the water quality pieces are also among the smallest components of the Farm Bill.
"Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate just passed Farm Bills that we hope will soon be reconciled and signed into law," said Campbell.
CBF staff will be present at Ag Progress Days meeting with producers and legislators to discuss the Farm Bill. Additional information about ways CBF can assist farmers with managing manure and nutrients, protecting soil, and about the direct connection between on-farm practices and local water quality will be available at our display, located in the J.D. Harrington Building.