Farm Bills Released by U.S. House and Senate Could Benefit Chesapeake Bay

Leaders of the congressional agriculture committees today unveiled separate versions of legislation to reauthorize the Farm Bill, the largest and most influential agricultural legislation in the nation.   

The Farm Bill, which is renegotiated about every five years, has far-reaching outcomes for the way food is grown, the livelihood of farmers, and the health of rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.  

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson, (R-Pa.), released an overview of his panel’s version of the Farm Bill on Wednesday. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) rolled out a detailed summary of the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act

Farmers play a critical role in keeping waterways clean. Agriculture is the second largest land use in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, behind only forests. The large number of acres in ag production is one of the reasons that nutrient runoff from farms is the largest source of pollution in our waters. Working with our agricultural communities is our greatest opportunity to create meaningful and lasting change for clean water. 

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) advocates for programs that help farmers install conservation projects that reduce pollution to waterways. CBF urges Congress pass a final version of the Farm Bill that:  

  • Invests in and makes updates to key conservation programs that provide technical support to farmers and incentivize regenerative agriculture. Those include the Conservation Reserve Program, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP); 
  • Authorizes the Chesapeake Bay States' Partnership Initiative to direct additional federal resources to Chesapeake Bay watershed farms, particularly in Pennsylvania;  
  • Develops and maintains a robust workforce of agricultural conservation professionals to help install local conservation programs and practices on the ground; and, 
  • Preserves the $20 billion investment from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act that Congress devoted specifically to Farm Bill conservation programs. 

We applaud Chairwoman Stabenow for including these priorities in the initial Senate version of the bill. For the House version, full details on these programs are not yet available.   

CBF Federal Director Keisha Sedlacek issued the following statement.  

“The Farm Bill is an unparalleled opportunity for the Chesapeake Bay and our region’s farmers. This legislation can focus federal resources on conservation programs that lead to cleaner waterways and more resilient farms, address climate change, and benefit local economies.  

“We thank Chairwoman Stabenow for her leadership on including key conservation elements in the Senate legislation. We’re grateful to Chairman Thompson for his hard work on moving the Farm Bill forward and look forward to learning more details about the House version.” 

Kenny Fletcher 90x110

Kenny Fletcher

Director of Communications and Media Relations, CBF

[email protected]

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