Last week, the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Maryland received more than $2.7 million to fund four projects through USDA's Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative. The projects will help accelerate voluntary farm conservation efforts toward a healthy and restored Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
Some $2 million of the funds are designated to Maryland Department of Agriculture for cover crops on priority Chesapeake Bay watersheds. Some $725,000 is targeted for Queen Anne's Soil Conservation District, and Talbot Soil Conservation District to leverage financial and technical assistance available to landowners.
About $200,000 is designed for vegetative environmental buffers on the Delmarva Peninsula to intercept ammonia and particulate emissions from fans on poultry houses, reduce associated odors, and improve water quality. Funding for these buffers will be shared between NRCS Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia.
Farmers within the approved CCPI project locations may begin to contact their local NRCS office to apply for conservation practices covered by these projects. For more information on the project goals and boundaries, contact your local USDA Service Center.
"A thriving and sustainable agricultural sector is critical to restoring the Chesapeake Bay," says Maryland NRCS State Conservationist Jon Hall. "The unique partnership available through CCPI provides us an opportunity to show that a voluntary, site-specific approach to conservation can work very successfully in Maryland."
"We are pleased to team up with NRCS to provide farmers with more options to plant cover crops in their fields this fall," said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. "Cover crops figure prominently into Maryland's two-year milestones to speed up the Chesapeake Bay restoration," adds Maryland Ag Secretary Buddy Hance. "They're one of the most cost-effective and sustainable ways to protect crop fields from soil erosion and waterways from nutrient runoff."
For more about CCPI, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ccpi. For more information about USDA's involvement in the Chesapeake Bay, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/feature/chesapeakebay/chesapeakebay.html.