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Wittman, Chesapeake Bay Delegation Introduce Legislation to Accelerate Bay Restoration Efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) joined fellow co-chairs of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force – Reps. John Sarbanes (MD-03), Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) – to introduce the Chesapeake Bay Conservation Acceleration Act of 2023, which would accelerate conservation goals in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

The legislation would focus federal resources on the approximately 83,000 farms in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to boost voluntary conservation efforts that help achieve water quality goals, increase soil health, and provide economic benefits. Additionally, the legislation provides solutions for developing a more robust agriculture workforce to get more technical assistance on the ground, and it would simplify harvesting invasive blue catfish from the Bay.

"The agriculture industry is vital to the Commonwealth’s economy, and our farmers are committed to the stewardship and protection of the Chesapeake Bay," said Rep. Wittman. "This legislation will ensure additional resources go directly to on-the-ground conservation projects that support farmers and restore the Chesapeake Bay. I’m proud to be leading this bipartisan effort to encourage the responsible stewardship of our lands, waters, and wildlife, and to fight for a cleaner, safer, and healthier Bay."

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The current farm bill expires September 30, 2023, and Congress continues to work to extend these critical programs for farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs in the Farm Bill provide substantial resources, including funding and technical assistance to implement on-the-ground conservation practices in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The Chesapeake Bay Conservation Acceleration Act of 2023 would provide additional tools to further investments and conservation programs in the region.

Read the full bill text here.