In May 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order for the federal government to take a more vigorous role in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. The order established a Federal Leadership Committee of senior officials from the EPA, the USDA and five other cabinet level departments. Their mandate is clear: Do what it takes to clean up the Bay - that means big changes to the programs and policies that affect farms and farmland.
Meeting Bay Goals will Bring Real Change to Chesapeake Agriculture
Key Challenges and Integrated Strategies
After meetings and listening sessions in August, the EPA and four federal departments submitted draft reports on the key challenges of Bay cleanup to the Federal Leadership committee and released the reports to the public. They will be combined into a single,
integrated federal strategy, outlining the steps needed to restore
the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
Real Reductions, Big Change
With public support over the past 25 years, agricultural landowners have made significant contributions to a healthy Bay. Yet overall water quality goals have not been met and the draft reports estimate a further 44% overall reduction of nitrogen - 81 million pounds of it from farmland. Meeting these reductions means big changes in programs and policies. But it is also an opportunity to support the innovative solutions to improving water quality that farmers have been demonstrating.
Programs and Policies That Work for Farmers
Farmers and their land offer Bay Watershed communities fresh food and scenic landscapes, while stimulating local economies. But poorly crafted regulations can make it harder to operate and can eat into farmers' thin profits. Our region can't afford to lose its farms. Draft reports recommend that regulators partner with agriculture, but it's up to you to make sure that the Federal Leadership Committee creates programs and policies that work for farmers.
"EPA believes that maintaining the viability of agriculture is an essential component to sustaining ecosystems in the Bay. Environmentally sound farming is a preferred land use in the region and we are committed to strong partnerships." - EPA, 202(a) Water Quality Draft Report
Chesapeake Bay Executive Order Timeline