PA Stake in Farm Bill Investment in Conservation That Counts
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Over a two-year period in Pennsylvania, farmers have managed 100,000 acres worth of on-farm practices that reduce polluted runoff from entering local streams and the Chesapeake Bay. Measures such as restoring stream-side forests, special management techniques of fertilizers, and planting protective vegetation called cover crops on fields that grow crops in the summer but would otherwise be bare in the winter, take advantage of conservation programs in the Farm Bill.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) calls it Conservation That Counts and says it's an investment that pays off exponentially. Lamonte Garber, Agriculture Program Manager for CBF in Pennsylvania, specified what that means.
"It's conservation that counts in that Pennsylvania and other states around the Chesapeake Bay are required to implement a wide range of water-quality practices and report on those practices every two years."
Garber declared that farmers in Pennsylvania and all over the nation have shown a willingness to put conservation into practice on their lands, but they can't invest what they don't have.
"They need the certainty of a renewed five-year Farm Bill, that needs to get passed by September 30 this year, in order for them to proceed with the conservation projects that they want to do," he said.
Garber poined to the importance of providing the same kind of investment in water infrastructure as in road and bridge infrastructure.
"The conservation programs in the Farm Bill represent the biggest water-quality improvement program
in the nation," he said. "It helps us maintain a clean-water infrastructure for our streams, our lakes and Chesapeake Bay."
Garber said that because conservation funding accounts for less than 6 percent of the Farm Bill, it isn't getting the attention that nutrition programs and crop insurance do. He stated that currently, only one of every three farmers who turns to the federal government for conservation help is getting it, because of funding limitations.