Senators urge department-wide USDA initiative to prioritize farm bill water quality improvements
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, chairman of the Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, led a bipartisan letter urging U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to utilize a department-wide National Water Quality Initiative to prioritize conservation measures in the 2018 farm bill to address water quality.
“The 2018 farm bill made historic investments in voluntary conservation efforts to address water quality challenge — from the Great Lakes to the Chesapeake Bay to the Mississippi River,” wrote the senators. “Specifically, the bill reformed and improved all major conservation programs in order to provide new tools to assist farmers, ranchers, and landowners in addressing water quality concerns.”
“We know farmers play an important role as stewards of our land and water,” the senators went on to write. “In order to maximize the effectiveness of these water quality improvements, we urge you to implement these provisions through a department-wide National Water Quality Initiative, which would build off the existing initiative housed at the Natural Resource Conservation Service.”
In addition to requesting the creation of the new initiative, the senators also provided recommendations for coordinating implementation of the new water quality priorities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the farm bill’s conservation investments.
The letter, led by Sens. Stabenow and Ernst, was also signed by Sens. Mike Braun, R-Ind., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Tom Carper, D-Del., Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.