HARRISBURG – Allocating federal stimulus spending revenue to clean-water initiatives would provide the financial incentive farmers need to mitigate runoff into streams, according to testimony offered today about House Bill 1901
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Hershey (R-Mifflin/Juniata/Franklin), told the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee he crafted the legislation in a way that supports projects people already want to tackle but cannot afford.
The bill would allocate $250 million in American Rescue Plan funding with 50% of it going to agricultural purposes. It could be used to install livestock fencing along streambanks, plant cover crops, build dry storage sheds and start similar projects that reduce nutrients in agricultural runoff.
Hershey reminded the committee that Pennsylvania has the highest density of streams in the continental United States, yet one-third of the state’s waterways are not safe for drinking, fishing or recreation.
“Many farmers want to make improvements to their runoff-management practices, but they lack the financial resources to do so,” Hershey said after the hearing. “House Bill 1901 would help the agricultural community – the leading industry in our state – with the federal funding already coming to Pennsylvania.”
Juniata County farmer and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau board member David Graybill testified about the management practices on his 400-acre dairy farm.
“While these systems are effective, they come with a cost,” he told the committee.
Hershey is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. He said the bill has bipartisan, bicameral support, and he urged swift passage of it.
The meeting also featured presentations from John Dryzal, Cambria County Conservation District; Mike Flinchbaugh, farmer from York County; Marel King, Pennsylvania director, Chesapeake Bay Commission; Charlotte Katzenmoyer, Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association; Michael Nerozzi, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission; Brenda Shambaugh, Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts; Christopher Thompson, Lancaster County Conservation District; and Darrin Youker, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.
Representative John Hershey
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Fitch
Rep. John Hershey testifying before the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee.