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A coalition of Great Lakes states, agriculture, water utility and conservation leaders recently released a joint statement to Congress highlighting program priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill to protect the region’s soil, drinking water and wildlife while promoting a strong farm economy.

The statement calls on Congress to increase funding and implement policy reforms to improve working lands, easement, habitat restoration, and invasive species control programs; expand conservation technical assistance to promote the adoption of successful practices to protect water quality, increase productivity and conserve valuable wildlife habitat; and strengthen methods for demonstrating conservation success, improve research, and support state certification programs.

“Farmers in the Great Lakes region care deeply about being good stewards of their farms and water quality,” said Laura A. Campbell, agriculture ecology department manager at the Michigan Farm Bureau. “Conservation programs under the Farm Bill help them achieve those goals, so we support Farm Bill funding for the technical and financial assistance farmers need for success. We appreciate the partnership the Great Lakes Commission provides on this effort, bringing people together under the common goal of supporting both healthy farm communities and healthy environments.”

“Site-specific 4R nutrient stewardship practices are a critical part of environmental stewardship and agricultural productivity,” said Chris Jahn, president of The Fertilizer Institute (TFI). “The Great Lakes are a national treasure, and we urge Congress to use this Farm Bill to ensure that farmers have the tools to produce an abundant food supply while protecting soil, water and air resources.”

“Everyone agrees that protecting and restoring the Great Lakes and safeguarding our drinking water are critically important. To do so, agriculture and conservation groups must continue to work together,” said John Linc Stine, chair of the Great Lakes Commission and commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “We’re excited to present these joint Farm Bill program priorities to Congress and urge them to protect the environment, economy and drinking water in the Great Lakes region.”

“AWWA believes the Farm Bill reauthorization provides a perfect opportunity to better protect sources of drinking water by encouraging partnerships between water utilities and agricultural producers,” said Tracy Mehan, AWWA executive director of government affairs.

 “The 2018 Farm Bill provides us with an incredible opportunity to strengthen agricultural conservation practices in Ohio and in the Great Lakes region,” said Peter Bucher, water resources director of the Ohio Environmental Council. “To reach our 40 percent phosphorus reduction agreement for Lake Erie by 2025 we have to see the bar set higher every year.”

The statement is endorsed by the Great Lakes Commission, American Water Works Association, Ducks Unlimited, Michigan Farm Bureau, National Wildlife Federation, Ohio Environmental Council, and The Fertilizer Institute.

The full text of the statement is available here.

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