WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced bipartisan legislation with Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Bob Casey (D-PA) to improve federal conservation programs and better support local farmers. Brown’s bill refocuses federal investment to improve water quality and soil health, while also maintaining profitable farmland.

“This bipartisan bill is good for farmers, it’s good for taxpayers, and it’s good for water quality and the environment,” said Brown.

With farmland playing such an important role in both Ohio’s economy and environment, it is important that farmers have the resources they need to protect local waterways while continuing to farm their land. Brown’s bill reforms the three largest conservation funding programs to protect waterways while expanding access to quality farmland.

Brown’s bill, the Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work (GROW) Act would:

  • Create a new Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers (CLEAR) program to better promote water quality. This prioritizes enrolling lands in the Conservation Reserve Program that will best prevent runoff and protect water quality.  
  • Reserve funding within the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for conservation practices that protect drinking water.
  • Makes prime farmland ineligible for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
  • Makes a number of improvements to the Conservation Stewardship Program to make the program more user-friendly for farmers.

Brown, the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 40 years, is helping write the 2018 Farm Bill. In 2014, Brown was part of the Farm Bill Conference Committee that successfully negotiated a five-year farm bill. Brown is currently participating in hearings being held in the Senate Agriculture Committee on the 2018 Farm Bill.

Brown and his office are also hosting a series of ongoing roundtable discussions with Ohio farmers and stakeholders to discuss their priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill. 

Brown is also working again with his colleague Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and the Ohio Congressional delegation to restore funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Brown and Portman helped ensure the government funding measure passed last year, included $300 million for GLRI for the remainder of the fiscal year, battling back reported attempts to cut the GLRI by $50 million.