Photo courtesy NRCS MarylandPhoto courtesy NRCS Maryland

Farming's Critical Role in Keeping Our Waters Clean

Farming and a healthy farm economy play a critical role in local communities, in the social fabric of the region, and in the water quality of our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. But the future of farming across the Chesapeake Bay watershed is precarious. We're losing farms because of sprawling suburban development, diminishing profits, increases in the cost of fuel and other operational expenses, and a steep decrease in the share of consumer food dollars received by farmers.

Preserving farms and open space is essential, because these lands serve as precious natural filters for our water. CBF supports land use programs and policies that slow the loss of farmland and prevent sprawl.

But agricultural lands also contribute nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution to our rivers and streams. CBF continues to advocate for conservation programs to establish on-the-ground projects that limit polluting runoff: stream buffers, cover crops, rotational grazing, and other "best management practices."

These agricultural measures are the most cost-effective way to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to the Bay. In fact, scientists estimate that we could achieve almost two-thirds of the nitrogen and phosphorus reductions necessary to restore the Chesapeake Bay, at only 13 percent of the total cost of Bay restoration, by implementing them.

Be sure to check out our series of farmer success stories across the watershed.

Watershed-wide, farmers are willing to adopt these conservation and preservation measures, and they are making progress. But they can't do it alone. Federal and state government investments in conservation practices, like the federal Farm Bill, can help farmers reduce pollution, remain profitable, and improve water quality for everyone.

You may also be interested in:
  • The Story of Nitrogen How excessive nitrogen and phosphorus degrade the Bay's water quality.
  • Pollution-Reduction Demonstration Project at Oregon Dairy The water quality of a local Lancaster stream is looking up these days, thanks to a group of nearly 100 CBF members, volunteers, staff, and partners.
  • Progress at Valley Grassfed Farm "Our business, Valley Grassfed, would not be in existence if it weren't for the implementation of these (conservation) practices providing for lush pastured paddocks."
  • Federal Court Ruling Affirms Chesapeake Bay Blueprint Pennsylvania Federal Judge Sylvia Rambo today issued a ruling upholding Bay clean-up efforts, and rejecting the arguments of the Farm Bureau, the National Association of Home Builders, and other big agriculture interests. The ruling affirmed that EPA, working with the states, has the authority to set science-based pollution limits.
  • A Farmer Weighs in... This farmer says enough is enough.

Meet Some Bay-Friendly Farmers

VA Farmer Buff Showalter. Photo by Bobby Whitescarver.

Ask most farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed about water quality and they will tell you clean streams and a clean Chesapeake are important to them. Meet just a few who are implementing Best Management Practices that restore our waters and improve farm earnings and productivity. Read their stories on our blog!

In the News

11.26.15 - 'Farmer to farmer' program offers better profits, cleaner water

11.24.15 - Video Local farmer shows off subsurface drip irrigation

11.23.15 - Chesapeake Bay grant to benefit local farmers

11.18.15 - Environmentalists want this state to take chicken poop out of its clean energy plan

11.16.15 - Bay Program OKs controversial nutrient reduction credits for farms

11.13.15 - Farmers v. Chesapeake Bay, Part III

11.10.15 - Can Food Production and a Clean Chesapeake Bay Coexist?

10.27.15 - Communication about Bay is vital

10.13.15 - It's time for PA to reboot its commitments to Bay agreement

10.15.15 - Panel to Discuss "Can Food Production and a Clean Chesapeake Bay Coexist?"

09.28.15 - AFBF to take battle to Supreme Court

09.28.15 - Farm Bureau challenging EPA authority in Chesapeake Bay pollution plan

09.26.15 - Cleanup at Bay

09.23.15 - Bill would protect local farmers with methane digesters from limits on electricity they sell to utilities

09.21.15 - Talbot County farmer among first in area to adopt two-stage ditch

09.21.15 - CBF Press Release: Farm Bureau Prepares to Ask Supreme Court to Throw Out the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint

09.10.15 - Farm tour highlights importance of Bay-friendly practices

09.08.15 - Should Md. put moratorium on poultry houses?

09.08.15 - Environmentalists call for moratorium on Shore poultry growth

09.08.15 - EPA analyzes animal ag regulations for Md., Del.

09.04.15 - Video Seeking Clarity: The 'invisible' pollution in York's waterways

09.04.15 - EPA: Maryland farmers lead in pollution reduction efforts

09.02.15 - Maryland farmers attempt to reduce pollution

09.01.15 - Growing food on a farm for the Bay

09.01.15 - Md., Del. on different paths toward Chesapeake cleanup

Creating Jobs,
Saving the Bay

See how Terra-Gro, Inc. in Terre Hill, Pennsylvania, is creating jobs and saving the Bay through its innovative and environmentally friendly composting system. This project not only restores our waters, but creates 10,000 jobs in the process!

Terra-Gro, Inc.

Find out more about the economic importance of cleaning up our waters.

Programs & Initiatives

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)
CBF is a partner in this program, which provides funding for Pennsylvania landowners to make their streamside property or farmland more conservation-friendly. Learn More

Buffer Bonus Program
This CBF incentive program enables CREP participants to implement other water-quality enhancing changes on their farms. Learn More

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