The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) congratulates Robert Bonnie on winning Senate approval of his nomination to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm Production and Conservation. The Senate voted 76-19 to confirm Mr. Bonnie, who currently serves as deputy chief of staff for policy and senior climate advisor to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Among the agencies Under Secretary Bonnie will oversee is the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRSC). The NRCS works with private landowners in the Bay region and around the country to implement conservation practices, such as fencing livestock out of streams, that benefit the soil, water, air, and wildlife, as well as help mitigate climate change.
NRCS funding and technical assistance are essential to helping farmers undertake and maintain projects that protect the local creeks, streams, and rivers that feed into the Bay and the Bay itself. More than 80 percent of the remaining pollution reductions needed to restore the Bay and its waterways must come from agriculture.
Under Secretary Bonnie joined the Biden administration in January from his post as executive in residence at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Before that, as director of the Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., he worked to develop innovative agricultural practices to combat climate change.
During the Obama administration, he served as Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment and as senior advisor for climate and environment to then-Secretary Vilsack, who was also former President Obama’s Agriculture secretary. Before joining the Obama administration, Mr. Bonnie was vice president for land conservation at the Environmental Defense Fund.
CBF Federal Executive Director Denise Stranko issued the following statement:
“Under Secretary Bonnie’s wealth of knowledge and experience in agricultural conservation makes him ideally suited to be the Department of Agriculture’s head of Farm Production and Conservation.
“CBF looks forward to working closely with Under Secretary Bonnie to ensure that farmers, particularly in Pennsylvania, get the resources they need to implement conservation practices that will improve water quality in local streams, creeks, and rivers, as well as the Chesapeake Bay.
“We particularly welcome his deep expertise in climate change policy. Damage from climate change, like sea-level rise, droughts, and more frequent and intense storms, already exacts a heavy toll on local rivers and the Bay, as well as the communities that depend on their health.
“But as Under Secretary Bonnie knows, the same farming practices that reduce water pollution also mitigate and improve resiliency to climate change. Together we can seize this moment to invest ambitiously in a restored, climate-resilient Bay while there’s still time.”
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