Project Update for Our Work in the Chesapeake Bay
Food and water are our most basic human needs, and therefore clean water and well-managed farms are integral to healthy, thriving communities.
To keep our water clean, each and every one of us has a role to play. For those of us in the Mid-Atlantic, the Chesapeake Bay is a special treasure and helping our farmers implement healthy farming practices is a key solution to achieving this goal.
Bay region farmers have done a lot in the last 20 years to protect our water by making changes in how they farm and manage land. For instance, they have reduced soil loss by 64 percent. However, adopting healthy farming practices is expensive and some high-cost investments don’t help their bottom-line. Therefore, these barriers, in addition to inflexible regulation, cause some farmers to risk going out of business. So, if we are asking farmers to protect their land and steward our water, we have to provide them with low-cost, flexible ways to do so.
That’s why AFT has been actively engaging farmers and their advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to accelerate the adoption of farm conservation practices, develop policies that balance farm viability with real progress on clean water, and bring greater emphasis in the public on the synergies between farmland preservation and water quality protection.
For example, through our Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Initiative we are helping 29 corn, grain and dairy farmers in the three bay states try out Best Management Practices (BMP) risk-free, backed by our BMP Challenge risk guarantee program (18 producers in the Middle and Lower Susquehanna watershed of Pennsylvania, seven in the Upper Eastern Shore of Maryland and four in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia). Our efforts this year have resulted in:
1) Recruitment of new conservation practices (manure incorporation, phosphorous reduction) along with nitrogen reduction, which have resulted in 126,657 fewer pounds of nitrogen in local waters; and
2) A successful integration with the farm bill’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to support the BMP Challenge.
These projects will continue to influence our 2012 Farm Bill policy work over the next two years
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