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Ag Committees Hear Update on Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Efforts, Causer Says

– State leaders and stakeholders involved in efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay appeared before the House and Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees Wednesday at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days to discuss phase three of the bay watershed implementation plan.

As chairman of the House Ag Committee, Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) said it is important to monitor bay cleanup efforts because of their impact on the agriculture industry. The Federal Clean Water Act requires reductions of pollutants, including nitrogen, entering the Chesapeake Bay, and Pennsylvania is only about 10 percent of the way to meeting its 2025 nitrogen goal. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) estimates the industry will be responsible for more than 80 percent of those nitrogen reductions.

“The agriculture industry is vital to our state’s economy, and throughout history, our farmers have been the ultimate good stewards of our land and water resources,” Causer said. “The timeline and expectations set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for cleaning up the bay must be reasonable. We cannot afford to cripple our Commonwealth’s top industry.”

Causer has long emphasized the importance of tracking Best Management Practices (BMPs) already in place on farms across the state to ensure they are getting the credit they deserve for their efforts.

To that end, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell and Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding offered lawmakers an update on their work to improve that effort through self-reporting survey results and on-site farm inspections.

“We finally have concrete evidence of what our farms have been doing, and that helps us target our limited dollars and human resources,” Redding said.

More than 1,500 farm inspections have been conducted by county conservation districts across the state, according to Brenda Shambaugh, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts. “If the inspected farm did not have a working manure management plan and an erosion and sedimentation plan, the conservation district assisted the farmer to develop and implement them,” Shambaugh said. “The goal of the inspections is to ensure farmers using BMPs are getting credit for the work they are doing.”

A key concern raised throughout the meeting is the funding needed to support, develop and implement plans necessary to help farmers, as well as municipalities, to achieve the necessary reductions to meet the EPA requirements. In 2014, a Penn State study indicated it would cost at least $240 million per year to meet EPA’s goals by the 2025 deadline.

“The gap between needed funding and available funding is huge,” said John Bell, senior government affairs counsel for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. He also noted the economic challenges faced by farm families in keeping their farms viable, stating that they cannot afford to bear the full cost required to meet EPA’s time table.

Despite these concerns, several participants in the meeting indicated improved relations with EPA and a recognition by the agency of the unique challenges facing the Commonwealth and its farmers.

More information about the state’s Chesapeake Bay efforts can be found here. Video of the entire meeting will be available at by Thursday afternoon, Aug. 17.

Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint), chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, questions Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell and Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding about the Chesapeake Bay Phase III Watershed Improvement Program at a meeting during Penn State’s Ag Progress Days. Also pictured, from left, are Rep. Dave Zimmerman (R-Lancaster); Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence), chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee; and Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne), minority chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

Representative Martin T. Causer
67th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler
717.772.9846 /

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