On July 28 the House Agriculture Committee passed legislation, HR 5509 The Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act, introduced by Congressman Tim Holden (D-PA) and Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). This legislation supported by NAWG and some 24 other major commodity and ranching interests, will give farmers and ranchers some common sense tools that they can utilize to meet water quality and nutrient management standards.
The legislation will allow the Chesapeake Bay region to maintain a robust farm economy while putting farmers and ranchers on a glide path to achieve water quality goals. To achieve these goals, the legislation includes the introduction of an interstate nutrient trading program, a revamped environmental assurance program and an extended timeline for Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL’s) for nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment from a daily standard to one that will account for seasonal variations. The legislation further provides that if farmers and ranchers meet certain voluntary standards, they will be provided a safe harbor from any further regulatory action.
As Congressman Goodlatte pointed out during the Committee’s consideration of the legislation, the reason so many national agricultural organizations were supporting the Holden-Goodlatte bill was that more stringent water quality and nutrient management standards and guidelines will be “coming to a watershed near you.”
HR 5509 now awaits action by the full House of Representatives. NAWG and other agricultural organizations are also working with members of the U.S. Senate where similar initiatives are being considered.
More information on HR 5509 can be found at http://www.wheatworld.org/issues/environmentalissues/.