(October 24, 2017) - The Farm Bill, a five-year bill authorizing federal programs, policy and spending regarding agriculture, nutrition and conservation, is up for reauthorization in 2018. The Bill presents an opportunity to advance collaboration between clean water utilities and the agricultural sector, and improve federal conservation programs that some clean water utilities are utilizing as a means to address water quality issues on a watershed basis.
NACWA staff has been working with a group of utility members engaged in conservation efforts to prepare NACWA recommendations for the 2018 Farm Bill. The ideas developed align with NACWA’s collaborative Nutrient Strategy developed earlier this year. The Association is now working to advocate for these recommendations on Capitol Hill.
This past week, in preparation for 2018 Farm Bill negotiations, bipartisan legislation to improve the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) was introduced by Sen. Stabenow (D-MI) and Sen. Ernst (R-IA). The RCPP, created in the 2014 Farm Bill, supports collaborative partnerships between a wide range of stakeholders – including wastewater and stormwater utilities – aimed at strategic watershed improvements.
NACWA member utilities that are familiar with RCPP had identified several ideas for how to improve the program’s usefulness for clean water agencies and its potential for improving water quality. NACWA advocated for these improvements as the bipartisan RCPP bill (S.1966) was developed and is pleased with several important provisions in the introduced bill, including greater recognition for the role that clean water utilities can play in partnership with agricultural producers to address water quality concerns through a watershed approach.
Congressional work on the Farm Bill is likely to continue in fits in starts over the coming year. Contact Kristina Surfus, NACWA’s Legislative Director, with any questions or to discuss these issues in more detail.