Monday, June 7, 2021

Senate Committee Moves Bill Establishing On-Farm Conservation Program-- If Funded

On June 7, the
Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee unanimously reported out Senate Bill 465 (Yaw-R-Lycoming, Comitta-D-Chester) which would establish an Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP), providing funding and technical support to expand on-farm conservation practices throughout Pennsylvania, including high-priority areas such as the Chesapeake Bay Watershed [if funded].

The bill, as amended by the Committee, now goes to the full Senate for action.


On April 26, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation called on the Senate and House to adopt and fund legislation to expand opportunities for farmers to partner with conservation district staff in their communities on locally focused projects that protect natural resources and improve water quality.

“As stewards of the land, Pennsylvania farmers know that protecting the environment and natural resources is vital to the success and future of our farms and communities,” said PFB President Rick Ebert, a farmer from Westmoreland County. “Farmers in the Keystone State have been leaders in implementing practices to improve water quality, but we know there is more to be done. Many of the investments needed are too costly for farms to afford on our own, especially in a difficult farm economy. Senate Bill 465 would provide much needed support for farmers to work with our conservation partners to grow our conservation efforts.”

“We haven’t met a farmer that didn't want to leave the farm better than when they found it. Increasingly, farmers want conservation to be part of their legacy,” said Shannon Gority, executive director of CBF’s Pennsylvania Office. “We all want agriculture to succeed, and farmers can succeed with the right amount of resources and technical assistance to finish the job. Our economy, health, heritage, and quality of life depend on it.”

The proposed ACAP would work similarly to the State Conservation Commission’s Dirt and Gravel Roads program.

Funding would be distributed to county conservation districts throughout the Commonwealth using a formula that benefits all parts of the state while directing additional resources to areas with the greatest opportunity for improvement.

Conservation districts would then partner with farmers and landowners in their communities to complete the conservation projects that make the most sense locally.

No specific funding source is identified in the bill, however, Sen. Yaw has proposed to allocate $250 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to establish a Clean Streams Fund for Pennsylvania.  Read more here.

Senators John Gordner (R-Columbia) and Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) have proposed allocating $500 million from the federal American Rescue Plan to fund Growing Greener watershed, farm conservation, mine reclamation and recreation projects.  Read more here.

Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and can be contacted by calling 717-787-3076 or sending email to: evogel@pasen.govSen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-8925 or sending email to:

Related Articles:

-- 90% Of Voters Want MORE Funding For Critical Environmental, Conservation Programs & Local Projects-- Whose Budget Proposal Does That?

-- PA Farm Bureau Calls On Senate, House To Pass And Fund Legislation To Support On-Farm Conservation Efforts To Improve Water Quality

-- Growing Greener Coalition: American Rescue Plan For Water & Green Infrastructure 

-- WeConservePA: Water & Green Infrastructure - A Good Fit For PA American Rescue Plan Funding

-- WeConservePA Urges Groups To Work With County, Local Govts. To Invest Federal Rescue Funds For Watershed Restoration, Land Conservation, Park & Trail Improvement Projects 

[Posted: June 7, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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