On Monday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate released the compromise Farm Bill agreed upon by members of both bodies. The five-year Farm Bill must still be voted on by the Senate, having passed the House Wednesday morning. The Farm Bill is a victory for conservationists around the country, including those within the Great Lakes region.
The bill as proposed would tie crop insurance subsidies to conservation requirements that would require farmers to implement soil retention practices. Additionally, the bill includes the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which will invest millions of dollars into key watersheds across the nation, including the Great Lakes.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition has advocated for both of these conservation components of the Farm Bill because of the positive impact they would have on the Great Lakes region. Tying crop insurance to conservation requirements would minimize runoff into the Great Lakes that contributes to algal blooms each year, while the Conservation Partnership Program would support water quality restoration, nutrient management, water quantity conservation, flood mitigation, habitat conservation, forest restoration, and other similar investments that would benefit overall Great Lakes health. For more information about how the Farm Bill impacts the Great Lakes region, check out our report from 2012.