(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) today joined U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Bob Casey (D-PA), along with Representatives John P. Sarbanes (D-MD) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) and members representing the Chesapeake Bay region in a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging continued investment in the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The letter sent to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Matthew Lohr, underscores the importance of supporting the region’s farmers in their efforts to reduce pollution and provides recommendations as the Department prepares a final rule on the implementation of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which supports these efforts. 

The Members write, “As members of the Chesapeake Bay delegation, we write with recommendations regarding implementation of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) under the 2018 Farm Bill. We thank you and your team for your ongoing work to implement the 2018 Farm Bill, which included key improvements to benefit water quality and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”

“As you know, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s financial and technical assistance for conservation efforts plays a critical role in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay watershed and supporting states’ efforts to meet their commitments under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint by 2025. These programs are essential to support farmers throughout the region as they adopt best management practices to limit the runoff of nitrogen, sediment and phosphorus and to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay,” they continue. 

The Members go on to lay out four major recommendations to help ensure the continued benefit of the program to the region. The recommendations include: ensuring that the Chesapeake Bay Watershed remain designated as a Critical Conservation Area (CCA), highlighting the need for administrative and financial support for lead partners in RCPP implementation, and pressing for clarity and transparency on reporting requirements on conservation goals and outcomes. 

In addition to Senators Van Hollen and Casey, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tom Carper (D-DE), Joe Manchin (D-WA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Mark Warner (D-VA) signed the letter.

In addition to Representatives Raskin, Sarbanes and Scott, Representatives Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Don Beyer (D-VA), David Trone (D-MD), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Donald McEachin (D-VA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Abigail D. Spanberger (D-VA) and Kweisi Mfume (D-MD) joined the letter.

The full text of the letter is available here.