(RICHMOND, VA)—Farmers in 22 Virginia counties can now apply for $1.45 million in funding from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help improve Chesapeake Bay water quality through livestock exclusion and forestry practices in targeted rivers and streams. This new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project will focus on fencing, watering systems and establishing/maintaining forested areas along waterways.
Offered in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), this multi-agency project will draw on the combined expertise of NRCS, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Virginia Department of Forestry to conduct outreach and offer technical assistance to participating farmers.
Project areas are linked to priority watersheds and do not include entire counties. Producers may be eligible for this funding if they receive services from these NRCS Service Centers: Amelia, Bedford, Buckingham, Culpeper, Farmville, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Louisa, Rustburg, Strasburg, and Verona. Interested individuals should call or visit their local office to confirm eligibility and complete an application by December 18 to be considered for FY16 funding.
Keeping cattle and other livestock out of streams is critical for clean water. The wading animals erode stream banks and excrete waste, increasing bacteria, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution for those downstream. Clean, dry cattle are also healthier and less likely to suffer serious foot and leg injuries from slippery banks and rocky stream bottoms. Project funding, plus additional state funding from DCR, will cover most of the practice installation costs, offering an immediate option for farmers who have been waiting for state funding for streamside exclusion practices.
"Created in the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP empowers local leaders to work with a variety of partners to design conservation solutions that work best for their regions," said NRCS State Conservationist Jack Bricker.
DCR is the lead Virginia partner in this tri-state project that covers portions of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Delaware is focusing on cover crops and riparian forested buffers; Maryland will address manure storage and management issues, and Virginia is concentrating on livestock exclusion and forested buffers.
Visit www.va.nrcs.usda.gov to find out whether your farm lies within one of the targeted watersheds or get additional information on Virginia RCPP projects.