Environmental groups are splitting over a bill designed to give farmers more certainty about how Chesapeake Bay restoration regulations will affect them.
The bill is scheduled for a hearing next week before a Senate committee. It would exempt farmers from new regulations for 10 years if they agree to meet bay restoration goals and allow inspections of their farms. Supporters say it’s a way to incentivize farmers and collect data on restoration efforts, while opponents say it could shift the burden onto others.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation supports the bill. Foundation Vice President Kim Coble says farms aren’t regulated like sewage treatment plants and other permitted facilities. She says the program would provide a way to achieve pollution reductions sooner. About 5,500 farms would be eligible.