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Measures to Improve Conservation, Organic, Beginning Farmer, Nutrition Efforts Across Pennsylvania

Washington, D.C. – As the text of the 2018 Farm Bill was just unveiled, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, is announcing a number of critical wins for Pennsylvania farmers, families and rural communities. Among other legislative provisions authored or pioneered by Casey, the bill will include measures that address senior nutrition needs, improve conservation efforts across the commonwealth and work to protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“I have worked for years to ensure that Pennsylvania farmers, families and rural communities receive the support they need,” said Senator Casey. “I’m pleased that the Senate farm bill will include measures I have pioneered that work to improve our conservation efforts and also to make sure our Seniors are taken care of. This is a strong bipartisan start and I look forward to swift passage and reauthorization.”

Specifically, the 2018 Farm Bill includes provisions from:

  • The Organic Agriculture Research Act of 2018 (S.2404) - Casey, along with Senator Susan Collins of Maine, introduced this legislation to increase funding for USDA’s organic research program to $50 million annually. The 2018 Senate Farm Bill includes the Casey/Collins provision and establishes permanent funding for this initiative.
  • The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Improvement Act of 2018 (S.2978) & the Chesapeake Bay Enhancements Act of 2017 (S.2139) - Casey’s bill codifies the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program so that we can better address water quality and other environmental concerns, and boost wildlife habitat throughout the Commonwealth. Alongside his Chesapeake Bay Delegation colleagues, Casey introduced the Chesapeake Bay Enhancement Act of 2017 which increases funding and reforms the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
  • The Nourishing Our Golden Years Act (S.2085) - Casey’s bill streamlines the application process of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program, also known as the Senior Food Box Program. The Senior Food Box Program improves the health of low-income Americans, ages 60 and up, by providing non-perishable food items once a month. By extending how often participants must recertify, from a minimum of six months to a once a year, the Nourishing Our Golden Years Act would minimize the burden for both participants and states.
  • The Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work Act of 2018 (S. 2557) - Casey was an original co-sponsor of this legislation which makes reforms to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which collectively account for 90 percent of conservation spending. Specifically, the Farm bill will prioritize water quality practices in CRP and ensures that CRP rental rates don’t outcompete farmers looking to rent land. The legislation also authorizes the Secretary to make Environmental Quality Incentive Program cost-share payments to beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmers in advance, better enabling their participation in this conservation program.
  • The Farm to Food Bank Act of 2018 (S.2824) - Casey’s bill establishes food recovery networks to incentivize farmers to donate their product directly to food banks to be distributed to those in need. The bill would assist farmers and ranchers by reimbursing them for the costs to produce, harvest, pack, process, store or transport to foodbanks food that is safe for consumption but does not have access to a retail market or supply chain.