(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that the Chesapeake Bay region has been selected as one of eight Critical Conservation Areas (CCA), part of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), in the federal Farm Bill. A total of $100 million dollars per year, plus 7 percent of funding from several conservation programs, will be available to the RCPP and the CCA designation means the Chesapeake Bay region is eligible to compete for a large share of those conservation dollars.
The RCPP replaced several programs from the previous Farm Bill, including a program targeted to farmers in the Chesapeake Bay region. Like that program, this new program is critically important to help farmers in the region implement the conservation measures needed to achieve the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint goals.
Following the announcement, Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Senior Water Quality Scientist Beth McGee issued this statement:
"Reducing pollution from agricultural runoff is one of the most cost effective ways to improve water quality, and Bay jurisdictions are relying heavily on these pollution reductions to achieve their clean water goals. As a result, this conservation funding is crucial to implementing the Clean Water Blueprint and restoring our rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay.
"The region was selected because of our critical needs, and the fact that the Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure. The Bay states committed to putting in place 60 percent of the practices necessary to restore the Bay by 2017. Competing for and receiving this additional conservation funding is critical if the states are to meet that goal.
"This designation and funding would not have been possible without the leadership of Senators Cardin and Mikulski, and the support of the other legislators representing the region, including Representatives Van Hollen, Harris, Wittman and Scott."