The Senate farm bill, which was recently approved in a bipartisan vote, is mostly concerned with nutritional funding and food stamps. The Food Stamps Program currently makes up about 80 percent of the current farm bill. The remaining provisions, however, are vitally important to the economic wellbeing of the nation. Virginia residents and members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are particularly concerned about continuing conservation funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, something the Senate farm bill maintains.
Since 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have joined forces to limit water pollution in Chesapeake Bay waterways. Farm runoff and pollution from fertilizers have led to the formation of major dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay, threatening marine life in the bay and risking the economic health of a variety of marine industries.
Despite ongoing court battles revolving around Chesapeake Bay pollution models, one of the major successes of the cleanup efforts was the passage of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative, which guaranteed nearly $200 million in Chesapeake Bay conservation funding.
The importance of conservation efforts in the Chesapeake go beyond moral arguments. According to a University of Virginia study, every dollar of public funding that reduced farm pollution generates up to $1.52 in economic activity. If various bay cleanup goals are met, Virginia could stand to gain about 12,000 jobs.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer