Pennsylvania Update

York County PA Farm-John Pavoncello-York Dispatch-1171x593

The boots on the ground—the farmers and the conservation community—are leading the way. It’s time legislators invest in them.

John Pavoncello/York Dispatch

From the Desk of Bill Chain

Spring 2022

Bills Mean More Green for Blueprint Progress

As the Commonwealth continues to lag behind in meeting its Clean Water Blueprint commitments, the number of miles of rivers and streams harmed by pollution has grown to nearly 28,000. This is according to the Department of Environmental Protection's latest biennial report.

More than 80 percent of the remaining pollution reductions must come from agriculture, and while farmers want to leave their farms better than when they found it, they cannot pay for best management practices on their own.

Legislation in the Pennsylvania General Assembly would provide investments and critical financial and technical resources to farmers for clean water. A Clean Streams Fund would allocate $250 million in federal pandemic relief funds to keep soils on farmland. A proposed Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP) would provide vital cost-share funds to farmers.

Governor Tom Wolf's General Fund budget proposal for fiscal year 2022-23 includes spending over $13 billion in pandemic relief funds and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Some of those funds could be invested in the ACAP, Clean Streams Fund, and Growing Greener.

CBF Gets Grant to Connect with Underserved Farmers

CBF has received a federal grant to help historically underserved farmers learn about and implement agricultural conservation practices that are good for water quality, climate resiliency, soil health, and farmers' bottom lines.

With the Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service grant, CBF will connect with veterans and novice farmers in central and south-central Pennsylvania, and limited-resource farmers in Maryland.

Historically, Black and indigenous farmers have tragically lost opportunities to farm because of unequal access to programs and services that support farm ownership. Without significant financial and technical help, they have almost no chance to farm, much less regain farm ownership. This program offers the resources to reach underserved farmers while supporting conservation, climate resilience, community health, and careers in natural resources management.

Partnership Slated to Add 500,000 New Trees

This year is a big one for the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership—the goal is to plant nearly 500,000 new trees!

CBF coordinates the partnership and looks forward to the challenges and the continued diligence and tireless efforts of partners, during what is the fifth spring planting season.

To find homes for so many trees, CBF has a goal of reaching out to 19,000 landowners who would be willing to restore riparian buffers on their property by the end of 2025. This blend of target areas for trees will have a direct link to human health, strong communities, vibrant farms, and a legacy of clean water.

The combined efforts of the partnership, state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Resource & Conservation Service, and Pennsylvania Game Commission have collectively added more than three million trees along local streams and in urban settings since 2018.

 —Bill Chain 
Pennsylvania Assistant Director and Agriculture Program Manager
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