LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
This week's announcement that $23 million in federal Farm Bill funds are now available for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative is great news for the Bay and for Maryland farmers. We applaud Maryland's Congressional delegation and Governor Martin O'Malley for their steadfast efforts to ensure Maryland received this additional funding to implement vital, targeted agricultural conservation practices to help clean up the Bay.
This year, Maryland's share of the money is $5.1 million, which will nearly double available funding through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for this purpose. According to the formula approved by Congress, funding to further reduce nutrients from agricultural operations will continue to ramp up over the next three years. The funds will be used to support nutrient management, cover crops, crop vegetative buffers and other on-farm conservation practices that help reduce pollution flowing into the streams, creeks and rivers that feed the Bay. These best management practices tie directly to Governor O'Malley's BayStat initiative to show measurable progress in reducing pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. These funds also could help poultry and livestock farmers meet requirements of the new Animal Feeding Operation regulations going into effect now.
We are also pleased that Congressman Frank Kratovil has been appointed to the House Agriculture Committee. We look forward to his assistance in supporting Maryland's agricultural and farmland conservation priorities in Washington as the State continues to grow smarter and greener.
Roger L. Richardson, Secretary
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Shari T. Wilson, Secretary
Maryland Department of the Environment
John R. Griffin, Secretary
Maryland Department of Natural Resources