In a joint letter, 10 Virginia agricultural and environmental groups urged Governor Tim Kaine to include $100 million a year in the state budget to fully fund state cost-share programs that help farmers reduce runoff pollution to Virginia rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay.
The groups proposed an annual $100 million budget payment financed by 1/10th of one cent of the state sales tax. Payments would be made each year for 10 years to assist farmers across Virginia in implementing critical farm practices that reduce runoff pollution. Farmers would contribute an additional $646 million over 10 years as their share. This funding would make it possible for the top priority agricultural practices called for in Chesapeake Bay agreements to be put in place. It would also enable significant progress to be made in restoring the 400 polluted rivers and streams outside the Bay watershed.
A long-time priority for AFT, such collaborations among agricultural and environmental groups are becoming more common. Both communities are seeing that protecting farmland and farm business is an essential part of the solution to environmental challenges.
The agricultural groups signing onto the consensus plan include the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Agribusiness Council, Virginia Poultry Federation, Virginia State Dairymen’s Association, and Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The conservation groups include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, James River Association, Friends of the Rappahannock, Potomac Conservancy, and Virginiaforever.
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