Sen. Yaw Introduces Bipartisan Bill Creating New Program To Pay For On-Farm Conservation Measures, If Funded And Passed Before Nov. 30

On September 18, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation-- Senate Bill 1272-- creating a new program to help pay for on-farm conservation measures, if it’s funded.

Other sponsors of the bill include Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee, Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Majority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks), Minority Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

The new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program would be administered by the State Conservation Commission and county conservation districts.

The program is modeled after the successful Dirt and Gravel Roads Program also administered by the Commission and implemented by districts.

"(A)lmost one-third of our Commonwealth’s streams do not meet standards for drinking, fishing or recreation, and agriculture remains one of the largest sources of impairment," said Sen. Yaw.

"(A)gricultural practices are some of the most cost-effective ways to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution, and they have the double-benefit of improving soil health, nutrient efficiency, and the long-term viability of farm operations."

"This legislation is modeled after the successful Dirt and Gravel Roads program, administered by the State Conservation Commission. Funding is apportioned to local conservation districts based on a formula that considers relative volumes of dirt roads and impaired streams in each district.

“The Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program would apply similar criteria in driving targeted dollars to areas with the highest need for improvement. Districts would work with participating farmers and landowners to determine the best management practices that will work best for their area.

“This legislation was developed by a collaborative effort of governmental and non-governmental representatives, including the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“Given the challenges of meeting a 2025 deadline to have all practices in place to meet the Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, now is the time for Pennsylvania to enact legislation that will provide a roadmap for meeting those goals,” said Sen. Yaw.

Last year, Sen. Yaw promoted legislation as part of the PA Farm Bill that was signed into law creating the Conservation Excellence Grant Program targeted to the Pennsylvania portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

This new-- statewide-- program would be a companion to that effort.

Sen. Yaw also serves as Chair of the interstate Chesapeake Bay Commission.

The bill was referred to the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee for consideration.

Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and can be contacted by calling 717-787-3076 or sending email to: Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-8925 or sending email to:

Budget Opportunity

In May, the General Assembly passed an interim state budget that will run out November 30.  The budget did not address issues beyond keeping state government running during the pandemic.

This presents an important opportunity to address critical water quality and environmental funding needs in the 10 weeks before time runs out and this legislative session ends and everything has to start all over again in January.

Passing and funding this legislation now will provide critical help to farmers struggling to recover from the COVID pandemic as well as to local contractors involved in installing these conservation practices.

How Clean Is Your Stream?

DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.

(Photo: Award-winning Big Beaver Creek stream restoration project on Plain Sect farm in Lancaster County.)

Related Articles This Week - Water:

-- PA Farm Bureau: Finalists Selected For 2020 PA Leopold Conservation Award

-- Sen. Yaw Introduces Bipartisan Bill Creating New Program To Pay For On-Farm Conservation Measures, If Funded And Passed Before Nov. 30

-- DEP Accepting Applications For Section 319 Watershed Restoration Grants Thru Oct. 23

-- DCNR Announces Regional Virtual Grant Workshops For Recreation And Conservation Projects In November

-- NRCS-PA Encourages PA Farmers, Landowners To Apply For Conservation Financial, Technical Assistance

-- CBF Blog: Planting Trees In Pennsylvania To Save The Chesapeake Bay

-- Penn State Extension Hosts 9-Part Green Stormwater Infrastructure Webinar Series

-- Reminder: Chesapeake Conservancy Champions Of The Chesapeake Bay Nominations Due Sept. 26

-- Spring Creek Restoration In Centre County Creates Environmental And Humanitarian Benefits

-- Stroud Water Research Center Hosts Nov. 10 Webinar On Stream And Buffer Ecology

-- NOAA Awards $85,000 Grant To Stroud Water Research Center For Watershed Education In Chesapeake Bay Watershed

-- NRCS-PA Invests $2 Million In Delaware Watershed Forest Health, Carbon Markets Project With The Nature Conservancy-PA/DE

-- PA Forestry Assn. Exploring Change In Penn's Woods 2020 Symposium Oct. 26-30

-- PA American Water Launches New PA Environmental Stewardship StoryMap

-- DEP Common Wealth Blog: Ins And Outs Of Onlot Septic Systems In PA

-- Allegheny County's North Area Environmental Council Oct. 6 Virtual Annual Meeting To Feature John Arway As Keynote

Related Articles - Budget:

-- CBF Calls For Greater Investments To Reduce Water Pollution As Number Of Impaired Streams Increases In PA

-- CBF, Other States To File Lawsuit Against EPA Over Failure To Hold Pennsylvania, NY Accountable For Not Meeting Clean Water Obligations

-- Senate Environmental Committee Puts Spotlight On Funding Needed To Implement PA Clean Water Plan At Chesapeake Bay Briefing

-- Report: Sen. Yaw: Raising Enough Money To Implement PA’s Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Plan-- Isn't Going To Happen

-- DEP Draft 2020 Water Quality Report Found 25,468 Miles Of Streams Have Impaired Water Quality

-- Analysis: 2020 Is A Make Or Break Year For Environmental Funding

-- House Speaker Cutler: Republicans Will First Raid Dedicated Funds To Balance Budget In November

-- House Republicans Pass Bill To Freeze Funding For County Conservation Districts, Local Parks, Farm Conservation, Watershed Restoration Projects; Will Hurt Local Economies

-- Lancaster Clean Water Partners: Proposed Environmental Funding Freeze Would Be ‘Devastating’ To Lancaster’s Economy, Clean Water Efforts

-- House Republicans Moving Bill To Reallocate Keystone Fund, Damage Vitality Of PA’s Outdoor Economy

-- Analysis: Why Republican Freeze On Funding For Local Parks, Trails, Farm Conservation, Mine Reclamation, Recycling Is Bad For The Economy, Communities, The Environment

[Posted: July 19, 2020]


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