PA Farm Bureau, 45 Other Hunting, Angler, Business, Environmental, Watershed Groups Urge Senate, House To Pass On-Farm Conservation Funding Bill This Year

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and 45 other hunting, angler, wildlife, business, environmental and watershed groups from across Pennsylvania sent a letter to all Senate and House members urging them to pass legislation before the end of the year that would fund on-farm conservation practices to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution.

The bipartisan legislation-- Senate Bill 1272 (Yaw-R-Lycoming)--  would establish the statewide Agriculture Conservation Assistance Program to fund farm conservation measures.  No immediate funding source was identified in the bill.  Read more here.

No other nutrient and sediment pollution reduction legislation introduced in the General Assembly in recent years has received this kind of broad support from such a diverse number of groups concerned about restoring and protecting clean water in Pennsylvania.

This support confirms a September poll which found 90 percent of Pennsylvania voters want Senate and House members to address important environmental priorities and 9 in 10 Pennsylvanians believe that even in these tough times, state government still needs to find the money to invest in protecting our land, water, and wildlife.  Read more here.

The text of the letter follows--

Pennsylvania farmers have a history of conservation stewardship and innovation in practices that reduce soil loss and nutrient runoff and improve water quality.

But, in the coming years, mandates from the federal government will likely cause additional conservation measures to be performed on farms, especially within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

While environmentally effective, implementing many of these conservation measures will come at significant additional costs to farmers – costs that farmers can ill afford on their own.

In order to meet the financial challenges from federal mandates, Pennsylvania must find new and innovative solutions to fund on-farm conservation projects.

Environmental and agriculture organizations have come together to address this problem head-on. We are supporting the creation of the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program.

If implemented, this program will direct targeted dollars for use in implementing farm conservation measures in areas with the most critical need to improve local water quality.

This program will direct funding to county conservation districts, and will give conservation professionals in those areas the flexibility to determine and finance cost-effective farm conservation practices for local water quality improvement.

The Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program proposed under this legislation is modeled after the successful Dirt and Gravel Road program administered by the State Conservation Commission.

Each year, the Commission allocates funding to county conservation districts based on a formula that looks at the volume of impaired streams and miles of dirt roads.

We believe the same approach can be used in financing farm conservation measures that effectively improve the quality of Pennsylvania’s waters in a cost-effective way.

Senate Bill 1272, introduced by Senator Gene Yaw, would establish the Agriculture Conservation Assistance Program.

We recognize that challenges remain in identifying sources of public funds for this program.

However, given the immediate challenges faced in the Bay watershed, the following organizations believe that now is the time to lay the groundwork for innovative solutions at addressing water quality.

We are calling on the General Assembly to pass Senate Bill 1272 this year.

The groups signing the letter include the PA Farm Bureau, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Penn State Ag Council, AgChoice Farm Credit, American Mushroom Institute, Beckets Run Woodlands, Berks County Conservation District, Capital Resource Conservation and Development Council, Chesapeake Conservancy, Chester County Conservation District, Conodoguinet Creek Watershed Association, Crow & Berry Land Management, Ducks Unlimited, Juniata Watershed Alliance, Londonderry Township, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, MidAtlantic Farm Credit, Northeast Equipment Dealers Association, Inc., Northumberland County Conservation District, Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, Paxton Creek Watershed & Education Association, PennAg Industries Association, PennFuture, PA Association of Conservation Districts, PA Farmers Union, PA Forestry Association, PA Landscape & Nursery Association, PA No-Till Alliance, Perkiomen Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Potter County Conservation District, Red Barn Consulting, Inc., Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Susquehanna County Conservation District, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, The Lebanon Valley Conservancy, The Nature Conservation - PA/DE, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Tioga County Conservation District, Trailing Pines Tree Farm, Trout Unlimited, Victory Brewing Company, Washington County Watershed Alliance, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Yellow Breeches Watershed Association and South Lebanon Township.

Click Here for a copy of the letter.

The Senate and House are scheduled to be in voting session October 19, 20, 21 and November 10.  The 2019-20 legislative session ends November 30 and all bills die and have to restart the process in January.

Draft Conowingo Dam Plan

A draft Conowingo Dam Watershed Implementation Plan released for public review on October 14 shows Pennsylvania offers the best, most effective opportunities for reducing an additional 6.41 million pounds of nitrogen needed to make up for the fact the Conowingo Dam is no longer trapping nutrients and sediment before they can get into the Chesapeake Bay.  Read more here.

PA Bay Plan Update

DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council is scheduled to meet on October 20 to hear an update on Pennsylvania’s efforts to clean up our rivers and streams to meet the Chesapeake Bay mandates.  Read more here.

PA Chesapeake Bay Plan

For more information on how Pennsylvania plans to meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations, visit DEP’s PA’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan webpage.  

Click Here for a summary of the steps the Plan recommends.

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.

Related Articles:

-- Draft Conowingo Dam Watershed Implementation Plan Calls For An Additional 6.41 Million Pounds Of Nitrogen Reductions In PA; Comment Period Open

-- Steinman Foundation: Largest Chesapeake Bay-Related Stream Restoration Project In Lancaster County Moves Forward In Little Conestoga Creek Watershed

-- Op-Ed: Chesapeake Bay Foundation Suing EPA Will Benefit Pennsylvanians And Other Others Who Value Clean Water

-- Still Time To Register!  Virtual Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forum Oct. 29-30

-- Water Cooler Talk: Sustainable Agriculture Nutrient Recovery And Upcycling Webinar Oct. 28

Related Articles - Chesapeake Bay Restoration:

-- New Poll Shows 90% Of PA Voters Want Senate, House Members To Address Environmental, Conservation Priorities, Provide More Funding For Critical Programs

-- 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

-- 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

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

[Posted: October 15, 2020]


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