(RICHMOND, VA)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has presented 2015 Legislator of the Year awards to Senator Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Mount Solon), Senator Lynwood W. Lewis Jr. (D-Accomac), Delegate Edward T. Scott (R-Culpeper), and Delegate Michael J. Webert (R-Culpeper) for their leadership in securing about $27 million in funding during the last Virginia General Assembly session to help farmers reduce runoff pollution. CBF also gave a 2015 Legislator of the Year award to Senator John Watkins (R-Midlothian) upon his retirement this year in recognition of his enduring efforts to restore Virginia waterways.
"The Chesapeake Bay Foundation applauds these legislators for offering vital support to agricultural cost-share programs," said CBF Virginia Executive Director Rebecca LePrell. "These programs help farmers reduce pollution to local waterways from fertilizer, chemicals, and sediment. Importantly, they also keep Virginia on track for water quality commitments under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint."
Agricultural best management practices like fencing cattle out of streams, planting streamside trees and grasses, managing manure effectively, and planting cover crops are the most cost-effective steps Virginia can take to restore the Chesapeake Bay and local rivers and streams. The $27 million in funding provided in the last session is the largest such investment, not tied to a budget surplus, in the history of Virginia's agricultural cost-share program.
CBF honors Senator Hanger's unwavering support for Virginia programs to restore the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways during his tenure as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee. CBF also recognizes Senator Lewis' essential assistance to Virginia water quality programs.
Senator Lewis said, "I appreciate the recognition by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for my work last session in support of agricultural best management practices. Continued and increased funding is vital to our efforts to restore the Bay, which is so important to our Commonwealth."
CBF also congratulates Delegate Scott as he retires from the General Assembly after serving more than a decade and thanks him for his support during his tenure as Chairman of the House Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee.
"I am grateful for and humbled by this recognition by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation," Scott said. "Agricultural best mangement practices improve water quality from the headwaters to the Bay, and Virginia farmers are willing participants. I hope the Commonwealth will continue to partner with farmers on this program that delivers environmental and economic benefits to Virginia's number one industry."
Webert also emphasized the importance of farm programs. "The best management practices programs that we have are truly a voluntary incentive for those of us in agriculture to not only better our programs, but better the Bay," Webert said. "These voluntary programs are an excellent way for the Commonwealth to meet its Clean Water Act obligations without putting undue pressure on an already highly regulated industry. Support for agricultural best management practices is a no-brainer."
CBF's Legislator of the Year Awards are presented to lawmakers who have made outstanding efforts in the General Assembly to improve the health and resources of the Chesapeake Bay.