Photo courtesy NRCS Maryland
Farming's Critical Role
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.
Watershed-wide, farmers are willing to adopt these conservation and preservation measures. But they can't do it alone. Federal and state government investments in conservation practices can help farmers reduce pollution, remain profitable, and improve water quality for everyone.
Be sure to check out our series of Farmer Success Stories across the watershed.