House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies

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March 4, 2019

 

The Honorable Sanford Bishop, Jr., Chairman
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration
and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
2362-A Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Jeff Fortenberry, Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration
and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Fortenberry:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition request continued support for clean water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed through fully funding the conservation programs of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill). There are 83,000 farms in the six-state Chesapeake region and they are critical to the economy - responsible for more than $10 billion of agricultural production each year. After forests, agriculture is the largest land use in the watershed.

The 2018 Farm Bill, which we strongly supported, should, if fully implemented and funded, ensure that well run, responsible farms in the Chesapeake region remain economically viable. The Conservation Title of the 2018 Farm Bill is also critical to maintain and restore clean water to the rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake region, and for the Bay itself. These programs are essential for regulated agricultural operations to meet federal requirements under the Clean Water Act and help farmers meet state regulations that address both farm health and water quality.

 

We urge you to maintain full funding for mandatory agricultural conservation programs in Fiscal Year 2020. The 2018 Farm Bill made a number of improvements to key programs, and should accelerate our path toward clean water in our region, but only if these conservation programs are funded as Congress intended. With the support of much of the conservation community and clean water advocates, the 2018 Farm Bill maintained level funding for the Conservation Title.

Two-thirds of the 18 million people in the Chesapeake region get the water they drink directly from the rivers and streams that flow through the cities, towns and farms throughout our six state, 64,000 square mile watershed. Protecting and restoring clean water is essential for human health and for a robust regional economy. Much of the work and funding necessary to achieve and maintain clean and healthy water in this region would be accomplished through the Farm Bill’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  We urge you to provide full funding, $300 million for the RCPP. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed is one of eight Critical Conservation Areas under the RCPP, and this program is vital for our region’s farms and waterways.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is also a key conservation program for our region’s farmers, and we urge you to provide full funding for FY20 at $1.75 billion. Historically, EQIP has been the primary financial assistance program for conservation in the Chesapeake Bay region.

All six Chesapeake Bay watershed states have participated in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and this program is the key to restoring riparian buffers that are critical for water quality and wildlife habitat. The 2018 Farm Bill codified CREP and we urge you to ensure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture fully enrolls CREP acres based on the new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill.

 

In order to follow a common sense path to maintain economically viable well run farms and to have healthy local water and a restored Chesapeake Bay, which is critical for our regional economy, we request full funding for all conservation programs in the Farm Bill for Fiscal Year 2020.

Thank you for your consideration on this very important request to maintain funding for these programs which are critical to both our agricultural community and for clean water throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Please contact Peter J. Marx at 410-905-2515 or peter@choosecleanwater.org with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Action Together Northeastern Pennsylvania

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Anacostia Riverkeeper

Anacostia Watershed Society

Annapolis Green

Arundel Rivers Federation

Audubon Maryland/DC

Audubon Naturalist Society

Audubon Society of Northern Virginia

Back Creek Conservancy

Baltimore Tree Trust

Blue Heron Environmental Network

Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition

Blue Water Baltimore

Butternut Valley Alliance

Cacapon Institute

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Center for Progressive Reform

Chapman Forest Foundation

Chemung River Friends

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Conservancy

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Clean Fairfax

Clean Water Action

Clean Water Linganore 

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania
DC Environmental Network

Defenders of Wildlife

Delaware Nature Society

Ducks Unlimited

Earth Conservation Corps

Earthworks

Earth Forum of Howard County

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Elizabeth River Project

Environmental Integrity Project

Environmental Justice Center of Chestnut Hill
United Church
Environmental Working Group

Experience Learning
Float Fishermen of Virginia

Friends of Accotink Creek

Friends of Frederick County

Friends of Herring Run Park

Friends of Little Hunting Creek

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek

Friends of Quincy Run

Friends of Sligo Creek

Friends of the Bohemia

Friends of the Cacapon River

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of the Middle River

Friends of the Nanticoke River

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah                     River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Friends of St. Clements Bay

Goose Creek Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

James River Association

Lackawanna River Conservation Association

Lancaster Farmland Trust

Little Falls Watershed Alliance

Lower Shore Land Trust

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Native Plant Society

Maryland Nonprofits

Maryland Science Center

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Mid-Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Muddy Branch Alliance

National Aquarium

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

NeighborSpace of Baltimore County

New York League of Conservation Voters

New York State Council of Trout Unlimited

Neighbors of the Northwest Branch

Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego Land Trust

Partnership for Smarter Growth

Patapsco Heritage Greenway

Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust 

PennEnvironment

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited

Piedmont Environmental Council

Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Riverkeeper

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Preservation Maryland

Rachel Carson Council

Restore America’s Estuaries

Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection

Richmond Audubon Society

Rivanna Conservation Alliance

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Savage River Watershed Association

Severn River Association

Shenandoah Riverkeeper Shenandoah Valley Network

ShoreRivers

Sidney Center Improvement Group

Sierra Club – Maryland Chapter

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

SouthWings

Susquehanna Heritage

Talbot Preservation Alliance

The Downstream Project

Transition Howard County

Trout Unlimited

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper 

Virginia Association of Biological Farming

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

West Virginia Citizen Action Group

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wetlands Watch

Wicomico Environmental Trust