Chesapeake Bay Restoration Plan ‘Severe’ for Agriculture

Senate and House bills that would expand and reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay restoration program would impose severe economic hardship on agriculture and put further pressure on farming to move out of the watershed, according to Wilmer Stoneman, Virginia Farm Bureau’s associate director of government relations.Stoneman testified Wednesday before the House Agriculture Cubcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research. He explained that most farmers in the bay watershed are already regulated and required to implement mandatory nutrient management programs, setbacks and buffer zones.“The management practices that will be required to achieve the load reductions called for in the bay Total Maximum Daily Loads will have a high cost and will only take away from the farms’ already-thin bottom line,” Stoneman said. At the hearing, both Democrat and Republican subcommittee members complained of inadequate consultation with the farm community in launching a new round of Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.The hearing came one month after Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced legislation (S. 1816) to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay provisions of the Clean Water Act. The bill would put into statute a new bay recovery strategy approved March 12 by bay state governors, meant to achieve the pollution reductions to be required by a coming bay-wide Total Maximum Daily Load for nutrients and sediment.