Coalition: New Farm Bill Program Will Help Great Lakes

Workers install edge-of-field monitoring equipment on the border of an agricultural field within the Fox River watershed. Photo courtesy of the USDA-NRCS.

Workers install edge-of-field monitoring equipment on the border of an agricultural field within the Fox River watershed to help reduce nutrients and sediments in the Great Lakes. Photo courtesy of the USDA-NRCS.

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (May 27, 2014) – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced a new federal initiative that provides financial support to farmers to take action to improve the health of Great Lakes rivers, streams and wetlands to stop toxic algal blooms in the Lakes.

The Great Lakes are one of eight priority regions across the country that will receive funding as part of a new $2.4 billion, 5-year program in the recently passed Farm Bill. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program, as it is known, targets conservation funding on agricultural land to areas of greatest need. The new program will also fund state and national conservation projects to improve soil quality, water quality, and wildlife habitat through a competitive, merit-based process. 

In the Great Lakes region, federal conservation efforts will focus on reducing harmful algal blooms that are caused when manure and excessive fertilizer flow off of farm fields and into rivers, streams and the Great Lakes. Toxic to people, pets, and wildlife, algal blooms can close beaches, kill fish, harm drinking water supplies, and hurt local businesses.

Responding to the new program, Todd Ambs, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:

“This program is a winner for farmers, communities and the Great Lakes.

“The program will help bolster Great Lakes restoration efforts at a time when we’re seeing a lot of inspiring results—yet also understand that there’s much more work to do. This program has great potential for building on the many restoration successes that we have seen through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to improve the health of the Lakes.

“We thank Sen. Stabenow, Secretary Vilsack and the Obama Administration for their commitment to the Lakes and the millions of people who rely on them for the drinking water, jobs, and way of life.”

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of 115 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes

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