Brown Presses Agriculture Secretary to Fully Commit to Farm Bill Provision that Helps Protect Lake Erie, Ohio Waterways

Secretary Perdue Agrees to Full Implementation of Brown’s CLEAR Program

*Download Production-Quality Video of Brown’s Remarks HERE.*

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) pressed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to fully commit to provisions of the Farm Bill that will help keep Lake Erie and Ohio waterways clean. Brown secured the provisions as a member of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee. The 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law last December. 

Brown’s provision creates a new Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers (CLEAR) program, within the larger Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), to better prevent runoff and protect water quality. Studies have shown that targeting these sensitive lands and reducing erosion and run-off can reduce phosphorous run-off and improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

Brown secured a commitment today from Secretary Perdue to fully implement this program.

Brown: “Mr. Secretary, nice to see you, thank you. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to you without talking about Lake Erie and algae blooms and the conservation title and what you’ve done there. With Senator Ernst and Senator Grassley and Senator Casey, we wrote the CLEAR Act. That was part of the Farm Bill, the Clean Lakes Estuaries and Rivers Program. The Farm Bill made certain that CLEAR enrollment should receive priority among the continuous categories of CRP. As you remember, 40 percent of the acres enrolled through continuous CRP will go to CLEAR. My first question is will you commit to fully enrolling the acres that Congress set for CLEAR in the Farm Bill?”

Perdue: “Yes, sir.” 

Brown: “Okay, thank you.”

Brown fought to secure several provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill that will help protect Lake Erie and Ohio waterways. The final bill also included Brown’s provisions to:

  • Authorize advanced payments for beginning farmers as a part of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). This program would reserve funding for conservation practices that protect drinking water.
  • Include reforms to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which would prioritize cover crops and crop rotations.
  • Authorize increased payments within EQIP for the top 10 high-priority practices that protect the environment.
  • Reform the Regional Conservation Partnership Program which Brown helped developed in the 2014 Farm Bill.
  • Increase funding to preserve farmland for future generations.

The provisions included in the 2018 Farm Bill are based on Brown’s water quality improvement bill, the Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work (GROW) Act. These efforts will improve federal conservation programs and better support Ohio farmers by reforming the three largest conservation funding programs to protect waterways while expanding access to quality farmland.

As a member of the committee tasked with reconciling the differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill, Brown fought for provisions that were important to Ohio farmers. Brown, the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 50 years, held roundtables around Ohio to hear from Ohio farmers and rural communities about what they wanted to see in the bill. 

More information on the final Farm Bill can be found HERE.