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New Farm Bill Includes Provisions for Drinking Water, Conservation Practices

Water level structures at a farm in Northwest Ohio [Elizabeth Miller/ideastream]
Water level structures at a farm in Northwest Ohio [Elizabeth Miller/ideastream]

The 2018 Farm Bill is signed and sealed, with increased funding for voluntary conservation programs meant to address environmental issues including poor water quality, impacts on air quality, and climate change.

And there’s more funding in the legislation to protect critical conservation areas including western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and Green Bay.

“The Great Lakes are going to be in a better position for securing funding for priority watersheds within the Great Lakes where we know that agricultural operations are having a negative impact on water quality and habitat,” said Matt Doss, Policy Director of the regional Great Lakes Commission.

In Lake Erie, agriculture is one of the primary sources of nutrients that leads to toxic algae, and the farm bill could mean Ohio farmers get more financial assistance to implement voluntary programs like cover crops that help prevent nutrient runoff.

But Doss says the work is not over.

“We need to continue to look at how we can best implement these programs, make them most targeted to the areas that most need conservation treatment, and also that we’re collecting information and able to assess the effectiveness of these and any government program,” said Doss.

Past Ohio projects have focused on water quality monitoring and increasing farmer access to technical assistance.