Poll Shows Chesapeake Bay Voters Value Local Farmers

Taylor TruckeyAFBF, Ag Group

afbfThe American Farm Bureau Federation recently conducted a poll of registered voters who reside in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed regarding water resource policy. The survey showed that nearly 3 out of 4 residents (1,042 surveyed) in the Watershed say state and local government should have authority over federal government when it comes to water resources. When regulations are needed, nearly half say they trust state and local governments, compared to only 28 percent who trust the federal government.

“Residents of the Chesapeake Bay region believe their local governments should have authority when it comes to protecting their water, and, understandably, they trust state and local authorities much more than they do the federal government,” said Ellen Steen, general counsel for AFBF.

The Morning Consult poll looked at voter opinion on a range of issues related to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory “blueprint” for the Chesapeake Bay that sets strict federal limits across the region for local land uses such as farming, forestry and development. AFBF has asked the Supreme Court to review the EPA rule, which it believes to be unlawful. The case is American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA (15-599).

When it comes to ensuring the quality of rivers, streams and creeks, 74 percent said that state and local communities should be primarily responsible and only 18 percent said the federal government should have the primary responsibility. More than three in four respondents (77 percent) said local or state governments should be most responsible for regulating how people use land or produce food. Only 14 percent favored the federal government.

While six in 10 voters familiar with the EPA’s regulations initially expressed their support, after being informed of how the rules might affect them locally, that support plummeted to just 39 percent, with 45 percent of the voters opposing them.

The results show that respondents were less likely to support EPA Chesapeake Bay regulations if they were going to put local farmers out of business due to increased costs or restrictions. The poll results show that those living in the Bay care about taking care of the water and water quality, but are interested in finding less intrusive ways for states to take the lead instead of federal regulations.

Slides highlighting the poll can be found on the AFBF site. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of ±3 percent.