Goodlatte Opposes New Federal Decree on Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Dec 9, 2009

Tamara Hinton (202) 225-0184

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research held a hearing to review the Executive Order for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and H.R. 3852, which would codify the Executive Order. Members of the Subcommittee heard testimony from representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as representatives of the Virginia Farm Bureau and other interested parties.

“Farmers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed have a strong history of being responsible and proactive environmental stewards," commented Wilmer N. Stoneman of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. "We support the reauthorization of the existing Chesapeake Bay Program. However, the reauthorization bills before Congress include dramatically expanded federal authorities that would severely limit land use and economic growth."

During the hearing, Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte from Virginia also expressed strong opposition to the Executive Order and to H.R. 3852.

"This committee worked very hard in establishing a mechanism and a funding source in the 2008 farm bill for addressing issues related to protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The farm bill provides unprecedented incentive-based funding to help farmers and ranchers improve management practices, which would directly result in improving water quality in the Bay. This effort is barely underway. And, it is far superior to the command and control approach of the administration," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte.

Similar sentiments were expressed in a letter that was sent to Chairman Tim Holden (D-PA) and Ranking Member Goodlatte earlier in the week. The letter was signed by 63 agriculture groups urging Committee members to support the reauthorization of the existing Chesapeake Bay program and oppose H.R. 3852. One of the groups is the Virginia Poultry Federation, which stated the following at the conclusion of today's hearing.

"This legislation is disturbing because it replaces a flexible, collaborative Bay cleanup effort with burdensome federal regulations and rigid deadlines and enforcement mechanisms that allow very little room for sound science and economically sensible decision-making. Farmers have made great progress implementing conservation practices on a voluntary basis, and the bill fails to allow credit for this good work," added Hobey Bauhan of the Virginia Poultry Federation.