WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) has awarded $8,000,000 to the Ohio Department of Agriculture for conservation of the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). RCPP is also awarding $7,780,779 to the Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Collaboration – a partnership among Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana – with the goal of helping participating farmers improve soil health and reduce nutrient loading impacts in the WLEB. The partnership will use sophisticated targeting tools to work with producers and landowners operating near the Maumee headwaters, an area identified as a source of high levels of excess phosphorus, with technical and financial assistance opportunities. Brown helped establish the RCPP in the 2014 Farm Bill.
“The Great Lakes provide clean, affordable drinking water to 40 million people, and we need to continue to take action to keep them clean and safe,” said Brown. “This funding will ensure that we are developing and implementing the practices that will keep soil on the fields and phosphorous out of the rivers and streams that feed Lake Erie. But it’s just one piece of a comprehensive strategy to reduce phosphorous in the watershed. I’ll work to ensure continued wastewater investments in cities like Toledo and Detroit, smarter farming practices, and a commitment by all stakeholders to be better stewards of our Great Lake.”
Brown has worked to secure important wins for Lake Erie through legislation and by speaking out against harmful proposals that threaten the health of Lake Erie.
Brown helped secure investments for Ohio water infrastructure projects as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA 2020). WRDA 2020 invests in key water infrastructure projects to be studied, planned and developed by the Corps, including our nation’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood and coastal storm protection and ecosystem restoration.
Brown secured $320 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in the 2020 appropriations package. Brown also spoke out against the President’s 2021 budget, which would Cut USDA conservation programs that help improve water quality in Lake Erie. Brown and Portman worked together to ensure GLRI was not only reinstated but also fully funded after President Trump proposed eliminating the program in 2018.
Brown was also able to include several provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill to protect Lake Erie and Ohio Waterways. The final bill includes provisions from Brown’s bipartisan Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work (GROW) Act, which will better utilize existing federal conservation programs to protect waterways and expand access to quality farmland.
Brown helped to establish the RCPP in the 2014 Farm Bill which created voluntary partnerships between agricultural and conservation groups aimed at helping farmers improve soil health, protect water quality, and restore wildlife habitats. This program has resulted in numerous innovative conservation practices that are reducing runoff into Lake Erie.