Agriculture

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:
  • Reducing Phosphorus Pollution in Maryland Phosphorus is one of the three major pollutants affecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Land where manure is applied has, on average, three times more phosphorus runoff than land not receiving manure. As part of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, Maryland is required to reduce phosphorus pollution 48 percent by 2025.
  • 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.
  • Buffer Bonus Program Helps Farmers Improve Water Quality The Buffer Bonus program is a CBF initiative that helps farmers make on-farm improvements.
  • Back to the Future Ron Holter is one of about 50 dairy farmers in Maryland who are boosting their profitability by going back in time.

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

06.08.16 - Local farmers help save the Bay

06.08.16 - Video Virginia farmers pitching in to purify waterways

05.09.16 - Benefits of soil health extend beyond farm

04.23.16 - Agriculture and wastewater leading Bay cleanup

04.08.16 - Howard plan to 'restore development rights' divides farming community

04.06.16 - Farmers asked to fill Chesapeake Bay survey

03.31.16 - Virginia lawmakers OK millions for farm BMPs, sewage plants

03.25.16 - State, federal agencies: Pennsylvania Farm Bureau's dire warning not true

03.22.16 - Lower Shore manure numbers revealed

03.14.16 - Excessive phosphorus levels measured on 18 percent of Maryland farmland

03.14.16 - MDA: Most farmland not affected by PMT

03.14.16 - Potentially polluting phosphorus levels in 18 percent of Maryland farm fields, state says

03.11.16 - At Maryland farms, manure comes up missing

02.29.16 - Panelists urge cooperation between agricultural and environmental communities

02.24.16 - Bill to cleanup chicken manure pits environmental groups against poultry industry

02.24.16 - What to do with chicken poo

02.14.16 - Poultry, the environment, and Delmarva

02.13.16 - MDA secretary talks poultry with Shore reps

02.11.16 - New stink arises from chicken poop

02.08.16 - Panel discussion on food production and a clean Bay

02.05.16 - Energyworks: A Company Turning Chicken Waste to Watts and More

02.03.16 - A proposed Maryland law wants to make big chicken producers responsible for dealing with their poop

02.02.16 - Maryland lawmakers take aim at chicken manure

02.02.16 - Maryland chicken farmers seek relief from new manure rules

02.02.16 - Shore reps say manure bill is bull

02.02.16 - Video Md. poultry companies urged to pick up bay cleaning tab

02.02.16 - Md. lawmakers address poultry waste, oyster restoration

02.02.16 - MD, VA lawmakers grapple with Bay-related issues

02.02.16 - CBF Press Release Environment, Budget Leaders Introduce Bill to Make Chicken Companies Responsible for Their Manure in Maryland

02.02.16 - CBF Press Release CBF Welcomes Restored EPA Funding for DEP, Urges Pennsylvania to Support Its Clean Water Plan

01.30.16 - Conservation and clean water highly supported by Virginians

02.01.16 - Pa. faces clean water regulatory 'armageddon'

01.29.16 - Pa. reboots' Bay cleanup with survey, inspections

01.22.16 - Chicken manure bill back in Maryland

01.19.16 - Trading ideas on how to trade pollution

01.15.16 - Environmental Groups Outline 2016 Legislative and Budget Initiatives

01.14.16 - Environmental groups take on chicken manure in Maryland

01.11.16 - Nutrient trading highlighted at symposium

01.09.16 - As General Assembly session begins, it's Hogan vs. Democrats

01.08.16 - Environmental organizations discuss legislative wish list

01.07.16 - Governor's budget would help the bay, farmers

01.07.16 - Innovative program promotes rotational grazing in Bay area

12.24.15 - Chesapeake Bay Foundation honors local lawmakers

12.22.15 - Farmers being given opportunity to gain grazing insight

12.21.15 - Hanger wins legislator of the year award

12.15.15 - Federal grant to benefit Frederick County farmers

12.15.15 - Grant helps farmers reduce pollution

12.09.15 - Farmers being given opportunity to gain grazing insight

12.06.15 - The promise of progress on water in 2016

12.06.15 - Conservation awards announced by soil district

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

You will begin to receive Bay updates from CBF soon.

In the meantime, join the Bay-friendly conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

Questions that require an answer are marked with  *
   
* Please take a moment to provide the following information so that we may keep you updated on issues and events near you.
   
 E-Mail Address
 First Name
 Last Name
 City
 Zip Code
   
* URL
   
   
* Timestamp
   
     
 

1-888-SAVEBAY / 1-888-728-3229

BBB Accredited Charity
GuideStar Exchange Gold Participant Seal
Charity Watch Top-Rated

Bids & ProposalsPrivacy Policy

© 2016 Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
All Rights Reserved.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is a nonprofit,
tax-exempt charitable organization under
Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.