Maryland senators say a farm bill passed by the Senate retains important bay conservation programs.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, meanwhile, says it is encouraged by the bill passed Thursday. The foundation says the Senate had originally eliminated $50 million a year in cost-share programs for farmers, which senators from bay states were able to save.
Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski say the bill rolls bay conservation into a new regional conservation program. Cardin says the Department of Agriculture has assured him Chesapeake Bay conservation will be adequately funded under the new system.
Doug Siglin, the foundation’s federal affairs director, says conservation funding was cut about 10 percent overall nationwide, but lawmakers kept funding for a key assistance program to help farmers reduce runoff that pollutes bay waters.