Sarbanes, Bipartisan Group of Members of Congress Urge President to Protect Chesapeake Bay, Accelerate Conservation Efforts

Today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) joined Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and 17 of their colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives in sending a bipartisan letter to President Joe Biden urging the Administration to increase investment in the Chesapeake Bay watershed region in the President’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal. The lawmakers ask the President to create a new Chesapeake Resilient Farms Initiative (CRFI), which would provide farmers with the resources they need to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay by improving water quality, sequestering greenhouse gas emissions and improving on-farm resilience as the Bay states work towards 2025 pollution reduction goals.

“We know USDA conservation programs are effective when deployed at scale,” the Members of Congress wrote. “These voluntary, targeted federal investments would be matched by funds from states, NGOs or farmers receiving assistance. But without additional federal resources – for both practice implementation and technical assistance – we will not be able to reduce pollution levels consistent with the most recent Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.” 

The creation of a CRFI has earned the support of all of the state Agriculture Secretaries and Farm Bureaus in the Chesapeake Bay region. It would be modeled after the successful Mississippi River Basin Initiative, created in 2009.

Senators Casey, Cardin and Van Hollen led this effort with U.S. Representatives Bobby Scott (D-Va.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.). They were joined on the letter by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) as well as Representatives Andy Harris, M.D. (R-Md.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Susan Wild (D-Pa.), Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.).