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Chesapeake Cleanup Survives Cuts To Senate Farm Bill

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Funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup survived the cuts to the Senate version of the Farm Bill.
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Funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup survived the cuts to the Senate version of the Farm Bill.

The region's lawmakers helped the Senate pass a major agriculture bill Thursday, which could go a long way in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Senate version of the farm bill, as it is known, slashes $23 billion from the U.S. agriculture funding and includes 100 reforms to various sections of the bill. With all those cuts and tweaks, the region's lawmakers were worried the Chesapeake Bay would see cuts to conservation funding, which is covered by the far bill.

But area lawmakers say they've received assurances that under a new formula, the bay should come out with at least the $50 million it's received in the past.

"The pool of dollars that are available for critical conservation areas has been significantly increased," said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who chairs the Senate Water and Wildlife subcommittee. "The criterion very much favors a regulated watershed such as the bay, and we've had clear indications from those who are going to be administering the law that the Chesapeake Bay should do extremely well under these revised programs."

Conservation funding was cut about 10 percent overall nationwide, but lawmakers kept funding for a key assistance program to help farmers reduce runoff that pollutes bay waters, according to Doug Siglin, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's federal affairs director.

Now the Senate's version of the farm bill has to be reconciled with a House version that's still being crafted. The House Agriculture Committee expects to tweak their bill after they return from their July 4 break.

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