Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman recently raised his concerns with the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in a letter sent to Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Sen. John Boozman. In the letter, he vehemently opposed the use of Inflation Reduction Act funds for Farm Bill conservation, asserting that it is essential to maintain Inflation Reduction Act programs whilst forging a separate, sustainable conservation fund in the upcoming Farm Bill. This is the only way to provide unwavering support to our agricultural producers while mitigating climate change. “We can and must do both,” quoth Sen. Fetterman, encapsulating his stance for our farmers and climate alike.
“I strongly oppose any measures that would essentially cannibalize Inflation Reduction Act conservation funding in order to pay for the Farm Bill conservation efforts,” writes Sen. Fetterman. “The bottom line is that to both support our nation’s agricultural producers and mitigate climate change, we must maintain the Inflation Reduction Act programs and include separate robust agriculture conservation funding in the upcoming Farm Bill. For our farmers and our climate, we can and must do both.”
Senator Fetterman is standing firm against any attempt to divert Inflation Reduction Act funds from their intended purpose for use in Farm Bill conservation programs. Voluntary conservation programs have the backing of Pennsylvania’s farming community, who seek to maintain the core objectives of the said funding program.
“In 2019, partners across Pennsylvania working on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan found that for Pennsylvania to meet its clean-up obligations for the Chesapeake Bay, the state would need to spend an additional $360 million per year,” said Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Executive Director of Pasa Sustainable Agriculture. “We also found that a lack of funding was the single largest factor in not meeting our obligations. Unless those who want to rescind the intended use of the $20B in Inflation Reduction Act funds for conservation want farmers themselves to pay for it out of their own pockets, these public funds need to be used as intended: helping landowners reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment loads to the Bay and to our own creeks and streams, for the benefit of everyone. Pennsylvania’s IRA funds for conservation are going to make a vital difference toward a critical issue, and we need to keep it that way.”
“The majority of Pennsylvania’s farmers want to be good stewards of the environment and keep streams clean,” said PennFuture President and CEO Patrick McDonnell. “Our continued support for Pennsylvania’s farmers helps modernize farming practices and keep agriculture lands in productive use. We cannot take away critical conservation programs that we know will successfully sustain our vital agricultural industry.”
The full letter, which is supported by multiple Pennsylvania-based environmental and farming-focused groups, can be found here.
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