Agriculture

Supporting Virginia Farmers

The Virginia Agricultural Cost-Share (VACS) program has distributed more than $200 million dollars to help thousands of farmers and landowners implement practices like stream exclusion fencing and forest buffers, which help prevent pollution from reaching local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. In 2018, the Coalition’s Communications Workgroup partnered with our Virginia members to demonstrate the need for increased and sustained funding for the VACS program to the Virginia General Assembly.

The workgroup identified and created materials that would be helpful in conducting educational outreach to newly elected officials, including one-pagers, before and after photos of projects, testimonials, and talking points. The workgroup also determined that a series of videos highlighting Virginia farmers utilizing the state cost-share program would help to elevate this issue.

The Coalition interviewed three different farmers from strategic areas of Virginia about their experience with the VACS program and why the funding is so important. What the videos show is that farmers not only benefit economically from installing these projects, but they also understand the importance of conservation and want to protect their local waterways.

Federal Funding Secured for Pennsylvania Agriculture

Photo: Chesapeake Bay Program

Photo: Chesapeake Bay Program

On October 4, at the annual meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council (EPA Administrator, Bay state governors, the mayor of D.C. and the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission) it was announced that over $28 million would be available for targeted agricultural conservation practices in south-central PA. The breakdown of funds was approximately:

  • $12.7 million from the US Dept. of Agriculture
  • $11.8 million from PA state agencies
  • $4 million from EPA

This is a big deal! A small portion of these funds had already been announced and disseminated (e.g., $3 million of EPA money announced by NFWF in August at their Chesapeake Stewardship Grants press conference), but these very targeted funds are critical to pick up the pace on agricultural lands in south central PA.

The Coalition has been very active all year trying to obtain additional funds for agriculture in PA, working with various Members of the House and Senate, meeting with officials at the Council on Environmental Quality in the Executive Office of the President, OMB, USDA and EPA.