Donnelly Applauds USDA Investment in Improving Water Quality in Western Lake Erie Basin

Senator joined colleagues in letter to USDA calling for action to help reduce algae blooms

Indianapolis, Ind. – August 17, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement that it will invest in helping farmers stop harmful algae blooms from forming and expanding in Lake Erie. The USDA will award Indiana $1.5 million to help Hoosier farmers improve water quality in the western Lake Erie basin. Two weeks ago, Donnelly joined U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in sending a letter to USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack asking him to act by encouraging states, businesses, universities, and organizations to work together to help improve water quality in the western Lake Erie basin in an effort to reduce algae blooms.

Donnelly said, “Hoosier farmers long have been leaders in preserving the quality of our waters, and no one knows better than they do how critically important it is to have clean water. This investment is being made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, and will advance efforts in Indiana to improve water quality and prevent algae blooms in the western Lake Erie basin. I will continue to advocate for commonsense investments, so our families have safe and reliable drinking water and our farmers can continue to implement effective conservation practices.”

The USDA investments will help enable Hoosier farmers to reduce the amount of nutrients entering the watershed, which can fuel the growth of disruptive algae blooms. This initiative will build on efforts already underway to help farmers implement conservation practices that benefit water quality. The funding is being made through the 2014 Farm Bill’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and will allow Natural Resources Conservation Service to help farmers apply selected conservation practices shown to help water quality, such as planting cover crops, adding gypsum to soil, implementing conservation tillage or no-till systems on crop fields, installing agricultural drainage water management systems, and implementing nutrient management plans. EQIP was reauthorized as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, providing farmers with assistance to implement conservation practices.

Donnelly has long advocated for conservation efforts that would benefit Indiana. His recent efforts include supporting the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and announcing Indiana will be participating in four conservation projects that seek to improve water quality. In February 2015, Donnelly announced his support for bipartisan legislation that would permanently reauthorize the LWCF. Reauthorizing LWCF would be important to Indiana because it would continue and strengthen efforts to conserve parks, lands, and wildlife habitat of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. In January 2015, Donnelly announced that Indiana will be participating in four conservation projects aimed at improving water quality through funding from the newly-created Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). In 2014, Donnelly sent letters of support for the state’s applications for funding for three of these projects.

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