Press Release
January 10, 2011

CBF Statement on
American Farm Bureau Federation Lawsuit

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued these statements concerning the American Farm Bureau Federation's announcement that they intend to file a lawsuit today against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), also known as the Bay pollution budget.

CBF President Will Baker said:

"The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is extremely disappointed that the Farm Bureau has chosen to sue EPA rather than work together to help address pressing water pollution problems in the Chesapeake Bay, identified by Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama as a national treasure.

"This action by the Federation is not pro-farming action but anti-clean water.  The TMDL process has been underway for years, considered agricultural interests repeatedly, and reflected changes due to their concerns.  The choice to sue at this point is but another disappointing example of the Farm Bureau's role as a high-powered lobbying group intent on misrepresenting the facts and frustrating the process of cleaning up the Bay and its rivers, contrary to the wishes of many of its members.

"CBF has repeatedly reached out to the farming community to address areas of mutual interest. Clean water is important to farmers, their families, and their livestock. Litigation will be long and costly for all involved and will likely do nothing but frustrate progress—perhaps the Farm Bureau's real intent, in spite of rhetoric saying they support clean water.

"Many farmers have embraced practices that will address water pollution. They, along with sportsmen and sportswomen, see benefits to local streams and their own well water, as well as the Bay downstream. Furthermore, many of these practices also improve the farm's bottom line.

"Reducing pollution to meet the Bay's pollution diet will require all to do their part. The Farm Bureau argues that the TMDL is inequitable; however their lawsuit is an attempt to evade their responsibility and shift additional obligations to reduce pollution to sewage treatment plant ratepayers and urban and suburban jurisdictions.

"Perhaps the Farm Bureau sees a need to fight government for some internal political reason. Perhaps this has nothing to do with good agronomic practices. If so, that is truly a sad statement about the self appointed leadership of a sector of society which calls itself the original environmentalists.

"CBF will review the pleading and consider intervening in the case."

(RICHMOND, VA)—Ann Jennings, CBF Virginia Executive Director added:

"There is a real disconnect between Farm Bureau leaders and rank-and-file Virginia farmers. Having worked with Virginia farmers for the past decade, we've found so many are more than willing to implement the basic conservation practices necessary to clean up streams, rivers, and the Bay. Such practices not only produce clean water but also improve the health of farm animals, help the farmer's bottom line, create jobs, and boost the local economy. That the Farm Bureau would challenge what's good for farms, good for the economy, and good for the Bay is out of step and counterproductive."

(HARRISBURG, PA)—Matt Ehrhart, CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director added:

"Many of the agricultural improvements identified in the Pennsylvania Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) involve moving farmers toward compliance with existing state water quality laws. Pennsylvania has approximately 40,000 farms in the Bay watershed, but only about half are fully compliant. The Bay TMDL is a positive step forward for farmers that will bring everyone into compliance, create a level field, and encourage profitability by improved farm management, conservation, and innovation."

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Kim Coble, CBF Maryland Executive Director added:

"Maryland is asking of farmers no more than it is asking of municipalities, homeowners and business owners—take steps necessary to restore and protect the Bay. Maryland farmers, for the most part, have been committed to this goal and are willing to do their part. Many of them also realize a sustainable farm can be a more profitable farm. It's counterproductive for the Farm Bureau to challenge what is good for farms, good for the economy, and good for the Bay."

Find out how fencing cattle out of streams can reduce pollution and improve herd health in CBF's publication Herd Health.

 

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