"We at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation were disappointed to be characterized as "highly critical" of agriculture's progress in reducing pollution (in Friday's website article)," says Beth McGee, CBF's senior water quality scientist. (Click here for the article.)
"We appreciate the work that many farmers have done to reduce pollution. In fact, we have staff on the ground in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia who work with farmers on a daily basis to implement conservation practices.
"Since the 1980s Chesapeake Bay region farmers have put practices in place that will achieve about half the pollution reduction from agriculture that science says must be cut to restore the Bay. That's great progress, but clearly more is needed. That's why we continue to lobby both state and federal governments to increase the conservation funding that has significantly contributed to the success to date.
"The last Farm Bill contained additional funding to help the region's farmers implement conservation practices. Unfortunately, that additional funding ended this fall with the expiration of the last Farm Bill."
Push for Farm Bill conservation funding
"We have asked our members and encourage Farm Progress readers to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives to support conservation funding in the next Farm Bill. Investments in conservation practices create jobs and stimulate rural economies," says McGee.
A University of Virginia study found that investing in practices like fencing cattle out of streams, and planting streamside buffers and cover crops would generate significant returns. The study found that every dollar of state or federal funding invested in conservation practices returns $1.56 in economic activity in Virginia.
The study also found that implementing the practices to the levels necessary to restore local waterways would create nearly 12,000 jobs of approximately one year's duration in Virginia. In many cases, these practices improve both water quality and the farmer's bottom line.
"Restoring water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay will not just benefit us today, but also our children and future generations," emphasizes McGee. "We applaud the progress that has been made, and are committed to supporting increased implementation of conservation practices in the future, just as we are committed to reducing pollution from other sources."