Coalition of states, agriculture, water utility, and conservation groups urge Congress to include Great Lakes priorities in new Farm Bill

Feb 6, 2018 | News and Announcements

Ann Arbor, Mich.  – A coalition of Great Lakes states, agriculture, water utility and conservation leaders today 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.

“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.

“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.”

“The Farm Bill is one of the most important federal policies affecting agricultural conservation here in the Great Lakes region and across the country.” said Marc Smith, director of conservation partnerships with National Wildlife Federation. “We look forward to working together on a new Farm Bill that includes strong provisions for wildlife, clean water and soil health.”

“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.”

“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.”

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.

The Great Lakes Commission, led by chairman John Linc Stine, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at


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