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05/20/2024 09:03 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20230&cosponId=38388
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: December 7, 2022 11:07 AM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank and Sen. Carolyn T. Comitta
To: All Senate members
Subject: Cover Crop Incentive
 
In the near future, we will be reintroducing legislation that aims to protect Pennsylvania's waterways through the use of cover crops in farming.
 
In 2010, Pennsylvania committed to cleaning up local waters and the Chesapeake Bay by the end of 2025.  Since entering the agreement, there has been consistent failure to meet the interim goals.  In April, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will increase enforcement actions on farms and local governments if the Commonwealth doesn't make substantial efforts to curtail water pollution.
 
In an effort to reduce contaminants from pollution runoff, our legislation will incentivize the use of cover crops in farming.  Cover crops are non-cash crops that are typically planted in the offseason to revitalize the soil health and reduce the need for chemical fertilizer.  They provide a myriad of benefits such as preventing wind and water erosion, decreasing run-off, and increasing overall climate change resilience.  Farmers benefit as well since the cover-crops greatly improve soil health which leads to a better yield from their cash-crops and increases land value. 
 
While there is an increase of planning and labor for the farmers, we hope to encourage the use of cover crops by offering a per acre refund on their crop insurance.  Similar legislation has been passed in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin with excellent participation results in each of the states. According to the executive director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, the first year of their cover crop program kept the carbon equivalent of 5,000 cars off the road and 4,000 truckloads of sediment out of waterways. 
 
We hope that you will join us in sponsoring this important environmental measure to improve our waterways, agriculture, and economy.
 



Introduced as SB283