TOLEDO, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined federal agriculture officials in Toledo today to highlight a historic investment in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The funding is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) – which Brown helped establish in the 2014 Farm Bill. Brown was joined by Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden; U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee; and officials from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“The Great Lakes provide clean, affordable drinking water to 40 million people, and we need to take action now,” Brown said. “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.”

Earlier this week, USDA awarded $17.5 million to the Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorus Reduction Initiative – a partnership among Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana – with the goal of helping farmers implement conservation practices that reduce the flow of phosphorus, which contributes to harmful algal blooms that comprise water quality. The funds will help farmers enroll in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides resources for producers to implement conservation practices to ensure and preserve water quality. From his seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Brown urged USDA to approve this application.

Brown, the first Ohioan on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 40 years, has worked to secure federal funding to reduce phosphorus runoff and has introduced a series of proposals to improve water quality. Brown has already worked to secure more than $3 million for EQIP funding in Ohio. In September, Brown reintroduced the Clean Water Affordability Act, which would direct additional funding to communities in Ohio to eliminate combined sewer overflows, which are a contributing factor in harmful algal blooms. Brown first introduced this legislation with former Senator George V. Voinovich in 2008 and worked with local officials across Ohio to fine-tune the bill.