The Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, along with the Maryland Grazers' Network of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, applauded the decision last week by Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance to include establishment of pasture and grazing infrastructure as a best management practice. That qualifies the costs for Natural Resource Conservation Service cost share funding in the state.
"Secretary Hance has swiftly and directly addressed the needs of this rapidly growing segment of local agriculture," says Joan Norman, president of Future Harvest CASA and farmer at One Straw Farm in White Hall, Md. "That will allow grazers to participate more fully in state cost-share programs."
Members of Future Harvest CASA and the Maryland Grazers' Network provided legislators with information about the increase in farmers interested in grazing and the positive long-term effects of pasture on resource conservation. Senator Ronald Young and Delegate Dana Stein were instrumental in sponsoring legislation that helped bring attention to this issue and ultimately resulted in the creation of another important resource for advancing sustainable agriculture in Maryland, says Norman.
"I'm very happy that a compromise was negotiated with the Department of Agriculture," adds Senator Young. "Grazing not only helps in providing organic milk, but also assists in addressing storm water runoff in very environmental way."
"I want to thank CASA, the Maryland Grazers' Network, and Secretary Hance for working out an agreement," says Stein. "It will provide farmers with support for a best management practice that is an important tool in our fight against Chesapeake Bay pollution."
Farmers interested in cost share funding for pasture establishment and grazing infrastructure may contact Rob Schnabel of the Maryland Grazers' Network at firstname.lastname@example.org