Agriculture

Photo courtesy NRCS MarylandPhoto courtesy NRCS Maryland

Farming's Critical Role in Keeping Our Waters Clean

Farming and a healthy farm economy play a critical role in local communities, in the social fabric of the region, and in the water quality of our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. But the future of farming across the Chesapeake Bay watershed is precarious. We're losing farms because of sprawling suburban development, diminishing profits, increases in the cost of fuel and other operational expenses, and a steep decrease in the share of consumer food dollars received by farmers.

Preserving farms and open space is essential, because these lands serve as precious natural filters for our water. CBF supports land use programs and policies that slow the loss of farmland and prevent sprawl.

But agricultural lands also contribute nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution to our rivers and streams. CBF continues to advocate for conservation programs to establish on-the-ground projects that limit polluting runoff: stream buffers, cover crops, rotational grazing, and other "best management practices."

These agricultural measures are the most cost-effective way to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to the Bay. In fact, scientists estimate that we could achieve almost two-thirds of the nitrogen and phosphorus reductions necessary to restore the Chesapeake Bay, at only 13 percent of the total cost of Bay restoration, by implementing them.


Be sure to check out our series of farmer success stories across the watershed.


Watershed-wide, farmers are willing to adopt these conservation and preservation measures, and they are making progress. But they can't do it alone. Federal and state government investments in conservation practices, like the federal Farm Bill, can help farmers reduce pollution, remain profitable, and improve water quality for everyone.

You may also be interested in:
  • Reducing Phosphorus Pollution in Maryland Phosphorus is one of the three major pollutants affecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Land where manure is applied has, on average, three times more phosphorus runoff than land not receiving manure. As part of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, Maryland is required to reduce phosphorus pollution 48 percent by 2025.
  • Progress at Valley Grassfed Farm "Our business, Valley Grassfed, would not be in existence if it weren't for the implementation of these (conservation) practices providing for lush pastured paddocks."
  • Progress at Valley Grassfed Farm "Our business, Valley Grassfed, would not be in existence if it weren't for the implementation of these (conservation) practices providing for lush pastured paddocks."
  • Maryland Grazers Network The Maryland Grazers Network is a mentorship program that pairs experienced livestock, dairy, sheep, and poultry producers with farmers who want to learn new grazing skills.
  • Raising Cows Green, Equals More Green Myron Martin's Peace Hollow Farm proves sustainable agriculture can help increase profits.

Meet Some Bay-Friendly Farmers

VA Farmer Buff Showalter. Photo by Bobby Whitescarver.

Ask most farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed about water quality and they will tell you clean streams and a clean Chesapeake are important to them. Meet just a few who are implementing Best Management Practices that restore our waters and improve farm earnings and productivity. Read their stories on our blog!

In the News

03.25.17 - Maryland corn growers honored for Chesapeake Bay stewardship

03.24.17 - State ag leaders pan Trump budget

03.24.17 - Ag budget shock

03.13.17 - State's farmers embracing bay cleanup

03.09.17 - White House may severely cut funds for Chesapeake Bay cleanup, Lancaster County farmers would be affected

03.03.17 - Poultry house pollution focus of MD Senate bill

03.02.17 - State budget reduces funding for agricultural cost-share program

02.23.17 - CBF joins other groups to call for no cuts to federal farm bill programs

02.15.17 - Hogan scales back Maryland water pollution trading proposal

02.13.17 - Farm stewardship program has certified farms in every Maryland county

02.01.17 - PA farm pollution affecting drinking water

01.28.17 - Glendale Farm owners complete certification

01.22.17 - New plant on James River to requires 1st pollution trade of its kind in VA

01.19.17 - Perdue turns to composting to get more poultry waste off farm fields

01.15.17 - Video Maryland spends $1M a year to transport chicken litter, to the benefit of the Chesapeake—and poultry companies

12.28.16 - Farmers look to greener pastures: Grazing over feed crops

12.26.16 - CBF gets $1.1M to help livestock farmers with conservation

12.25.16 - Manure spreading on farms will be extended a month in 2017

12.23.16 - Farmers given credit for voluntary conservation

12.23.16 - Money available for area farms to reduce pollution

12.22.16 - Farmers deserve credit for conservation efforts but there's much more work ahead

12.21.16 - Pa. project receives funding to improve soil health, reduce water pollution

12.21.16 - $1 million in grant funds available for Carroll, Frederick, Washington county farmers

12.20.16 - Survey: Lancaster, Pennsylvania farmers not getting credit for aiding Chesapeake Bay

12.20.16 - Many Pennsylvania farmers have stepped up to curb pollution, survey finds

12.14.16 - Video Saving the Susquehanna: What happens after Pennsylvania misses interim pollution goals?

12.13.16 - Video Congress asks for more funding to clean up Bay

12.09.16 - Audio available At the intersection of religious conviction and environmental ethics

10.31.16 - More resources can help clean up Pennsylvania's waterways

10.31.16 - CV student earns FFA national award

10.24.16 - Hands needed to protect creek in Woodsboro

10.21.16 - More money sought for Bay cleanup

10.11.16 - The Sellers: A Carroll County farm family since 1888

10.10.16 - $28.5 million committed to Pennsylvania's Chesapeake watershed cleanup

10.06.16 - Chesapeake Bay conservation mandate gets state, federal funding boost

10.06.16 - PA receives $28 million for Chesapeake cleanup efforts aimed at agriculture

10.05.16 - Restoring wetlands: Chestnut Creek Farm owners install environmental improvements

10.05.16 - Audio available PA Gets Critical Funds to Reduce Pollution from Farms

10.05.16 - $28 million headed to southcentral Pennsylvania farmers for pollution control

10.04.16 - PA's lagging Bay cleanup gets fiscal transfusion

10.04.16 - NRCS, EPA, PA commit another $28 million for Chesapeake Bay cleanup work in PA

10.01.16 - Ag Week to Showcase Lancaster County's Finest

Creating Jobs,
Saving the Bay

See how Terra-Gro, Inc. in Terre Hill, Pennsylvania, is creating jobs and saving the Bay through its innovative and environmentally friendly composting system. This project not only restores our waters, but creates 10,000 jobs in the process!

Terra-Gro, Inc.

Find out more about the economic importance of cleaning up our waters.

Programs & Initiatives

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)
CBF is a partner in this program, which provides funding for Pennsylvania landowners to make their streamside property or farmland more conservation-friendly. Learn More

Buffer Bonus Program
This CBF incentive program enables CREP participants to implement other water-quality enhancing changes on their farms. Learn More

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