Six state farm bureaus in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, signed on to a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, asking the USDA to establish a Chesapeake Bay Resilient Farms Initiative (CRFI), similar to the Mississippi River Basin Initiative, to provide funding for conservation efforts on farms in the watershed. The funding would be used to help reach the 2025 Total Maximum Daily Load deadline to reduce nitrogen in the Bay.
The joint letter asks for the department to direct funding through already existing NRCS programs such as Conservation Technical Assistance, Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and to implement those programs more effectively on the ground.
The letter points out that farmers in the Bay watershed have been leaders in implementing conservation practices over the last 30 years, and have reduced nutrient and sediment pollutant loads by half, while human and livestock populations have grown, and crop yields have increased.
This effort comes as Pennsylvania and other Bay states face a heavy lift in meeting the federally mandated goals for reducing nutrient and sediment pollution in the Chesapeake Bay by 2025. While Pennsylvania has developed a detailed plan for expanding conservation practices in agriculture and other sectors to meet those goals, there is a shortfall in available funding to see the plan through.
You can read the letter here.