(HARRISBURG, PA)—Harry Campbell, executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) in Pennsylvania, made the following statement after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reported that inspections found that 96 percent of almost 3,000 small farms visited in the watershed meet state requirements for having pollution reduction plans.
Farmers are required to have a Manure Management Plan to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous levels, an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan to reduce sediment levels, or both.
According to a DEP press release, 2,924 small farms were visited, representing more than 329,000 acres of farmland. Operations inspected during the period July 2017-July 2018 averaged 87 acres in size. Two-thirds of farmers visited plans prepared at the time of inspection. Almost all of the remaining one-third worked with conservation districts and agricultural consultants to develop their plan by the end of the inspection year.
State and local entities like the DEP and county conservation districts are entrusted with regulating and guiding implementation of those measures.
Based on scientific studies, DEP reports that roughly 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania's rivers and streams are damaged by pollution. Agricultural activities account for 6,798 miles of stream impairment. The Commonwealth is significantly behind in meeting its clean water cleanup goals.
Mr. Campbell said:
"Farmers, as stewards of the land, recognize the critical benefits of healthy soils and clean water.
"It is encouraging that so many farmers have taken the important steps to get the required plans that keep soils and nutrients on the land instead of in the water.
"The real benefits of those plans occur when they are turned into actions on the ground. The result is healthier, more productive soils and cleaner streams. It's a win-win.
"Unfortunately, many of our family farmers are struggling financially implementing plans which require investment of time and resources can be a significant hurdle.
"By committing sufficient resources to get more farm conservation plans put into practice on the ground, the Commonwealth would be investing in Pennsylvania's family farmers and clean water.
"The advent of a new legislative session and budget season is the ideal time for elected leaders to get Pennsylvania back on course for cleaner waters, by making greater investments in the right places, on the right practices and to the right partnerships.
"We look forward to working with legislators, the Wolf administration, and farmers in finding solutions so that we can leave a legacy of healthy soils and clean water for future generations. Pennsylvania's economy, communities, and culture depend on it."
The DEP press release can be found in the NEWSROOM section of the website www.dep.pa.gov.