Ag Groups Express Support for Holden-Goodlatte Bay Bill

July 9, 2010 Bookmark and Share

NAWG and a coalition of agriculture organizations wrote Reps. Tim Holden (D-Penn.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) last week to express support for their efforts related to Chesapeake Bay regulation.

Holden and Goodlatte introduced a bill last month as a counter-proposal of sorts to a measure championed by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). That bill would, among other things, institute statutorily-mandated TMDLs, or Total Maximum Daily Loads, on the region, which would be particularly burdensome for agricultural producers in six states surrounding the Bay. Many across the ideological spectrum are also concerned about the program’s technical feasibility and the likelihood of its authority migrating to other regions.

By contrast, the Holden-Goodlatte bill, dubbed the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act or H.R. 5099, would restructure on-going efforts to restore the Chesapeake and would set up an independent advisory committee to review past Chesapeake Bay initiatives.

The bill would also seek to set up a nutrient management plan that considers load allocations on a monthly, seasonal or annual basis, versus on a daily basis, and allow for a “safe harbor” provision for farmers who undertake program efforts in good faith.

The groups writing last week told Holden and Goodlatte that they appreciate the House Committee on Agriculture and its Conservation Subcommittee’s efforts to create forward-looking policies while maintaining the economic viability of the Bay’s rural communities.

The groups said, in part:

“Farmers and ranchers in the Chesapeake Bay region have a proven track record of caring for our natural resources and will continue to do more to conserve and protect these resources. This bill is a common-sense approach that will support and encourage these efforts…

“Your bill also gives assurances to farmers and ranchers that by taking such steps they will meet expectations for agriculture’s contribution to efforts to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed over a reasonable period of time.”

Organizations signing the letter included NAWG, Agricultural Retailers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation and United Egg Producers.

The letter is available in full at www.wheatworld.org/environmentalissues under “Statements and Testimony”.