PA Group Urges Action as Clock Ticks on Farm Bill
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania farmers rely heavily on the technical and financial assistance laid out in the federal Farm Bill. With some parts of the legislation set to expire at month's end, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) wants to see Congress take swift action to keep them intact.
As an example, says CBF Federal Affairs director Doug Siglin, the Farm Bill helps Pennsylvania farmers control agricultural runoff, which in turn affects the whole state.
"Buffers and manure application and manure storage are things that are important for the good economics of the farm, but are also important for clean water in Pennsylvania."
Siglin says water quality for millions of Pennsylvanians rests on the provisions of a comprehensive Farm Bill that keeps conservation funding intact.
"Pennsylvania has the greatest number of polluted stream miles of any state in the union, and agriculture does need to have some assistance to be able to manage the nutrient losses and the sediment losses off farm properties that are helping pollute Pennsylvania streams."
Chances of Congress coming to terms on the Farm Bill in the next two weeks are slim, Siglin says, at a time when farmers need answers.
"Pennsylvania farmers do a lot of planning during the winter. I hope we can get something resolved, so they can have certainty about what's going to be available as they make their plans."
Siglin says a five-year, $500 billion Farm Bill is stuck in the U.S. House as debate rages over how much to cut from farm subsidies and other programs. The House Agriculture Committee is pushing its own version of the bill, which would reduce federal nutrition programs by more than $16 billion - an amount House Democrats say is too deep.