On May 12, President Obama issued Executive Order 13508 on Chesapeake Bay Restoration and Protection, the first-ever presidential directive on the Bay. The Executive Order called on the Federal Government to exercise greater leadership and Federal action to restore this great resource.
Today, USDA and other Federal agencies are providing insights into our earliest thinking about possible Federal actions to improve the health of the Bay. This is the beginning of a deliberate and transparent process.
In addition to an annual investment of $90 million and additional $188 million over five years for voluntary conservation programs under the 2008 Farm Bill, under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, USDA is going further by elevating water quality as an important national priority.
Through the 202(b) Report being made available today, USDA recommends a series of important new actions to improve Bay water quality including the following:
· USDA will invest financial resources in watersheds that have demonstrated the highest levels of nutrient loadings, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus. This represents a clear departure from past policy.
· USDA will work with Federal and State partners to focus on high impact practices that show the greatest water quality improvement per dollar invested.
· USDA will accelerate adoption of conservation practices by increasing incentives and coordinating outreach and marketing efforts in order to reach the most critical agricultural areas and generate interest in conservation practice implementation. USDA will use emerging markets for ecosystems services to promote new opportunities for actions such as carbon sequestration, water quality, wetland protection, and habitat development.
· USDA will accelerate development of new conservation technologies through public-private research partnerships and by promoting innovation.