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Adam Ortiz, right, EPA’s Mid-Atlantic regional administrator, and Rick Ebert, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau president, speak at a June 9 press conference in Camp Hill, Pa.

CAMP HILL, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Environmental Protection Agency are hopeful that state legislators will pass funding for clean streams.

Adam Ortiz, the EPA’s Mid-Atlantic regional administrator, met with Farm Bureau president Rick Ebert on June 9 to discuss the groups’ shared commitment to clean water.

“We have common goals to improve our water quality,” Ebert said.

To help achieve those goals, Ebert and Ortiz support the Clean Streams Fund, which would use $250 million from federal American Rescue Plan funding to mitigate nonpoint sources of pollution such as agricultural runoff and stormwater.

“We believe it makes both economic and environmental sense for Pennsylvania to focus resources on sites like these where we were able to achieve the greatest pollution reduction at the lowest cost,” Ebert said.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Johnathan Hershey, a Juniata County Republican.

Ortiz said in March that passing the Clean Streams Fund could be a deciding factor in whether Pennsylvania meets its Chesapeake Bay commitments.

Ebert said that farmers have been good stewards of the land, but with rising fuel prices, increased inflation and supply chain issues, it can be hard to have money for conservation practices.

“We’re doing all we can with the resources that we have, but we need more assistance to achieve our common water quality goals,” Ebert said.

The state budget’s deadline is June 30, and Ebert and Ortiz have focused on pressing lawmakers to create the Clean Streams Fund.

Ebert said he’s feeling optimistic heading toward the deadline.

“We keep talking to legislators,” Ebert said. “I think the more we inform them of the goals of what we’re trying to do with the legislation, the more they understand.”

“So many critical decisions are being decided in the statehouse this month,” Ortiz said. “We do ask Pennsylvania to fully step up and join us in this effort because we want all farmers to succeed.”

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