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Federal, State and Local Partners Invest more than $10 million in Maryland and Delaware

Regional Conservation Partnership Program Pools Together $4.5 Investment from USDA,
$5.4 Million from Local Partners to Accelerate Conservation in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

ANNAPOLIS, MD (Feb. 12, 2016) –The Maryland Department of Agriculture and Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts (MASCD) today announced a new partnership project to improve natural resources and protect agricultural viability in Maryland, Delaware, and the Chesapeake Bay. Meeting WIP Goals in the Chesapeake Bay is among 84 partner-led projects selected by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help communities across the nation improve water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability.

NRCS Chief Jason Weller joined State and local officials in announcing the $4.5 million project, funded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

“We put out a call for innovative and results-focused projects that will deliver the most conservation impact for the tax-payer dollar,” Weller said. “Our partners answered with creative, locally-led approaches to help producers support their ongoing business operations and address natural resource challenges in Maryland, Delaware, and across the nation.”

RCPP draws on local knowledge and networks to fuel conservation projects. Meeting WIP Goals in the Chesapeake Bay brings together 15 partners to accelerate the installation of conservation practices to enable Maryland and Delaware farmers to meet the nutrient and sediment water quality goals set forth in the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Partners offered an additional $5.4 million in matching funds, bringing the total value of the project to more than $10 million.

“The core emphasis of this grant proposal in Maryland is that farmers will be receiving technical assistance from their trusted soil conservation district staff to install best management practices on their land with an emphasis on animal waste for livestock and poultry,” said MASCD President Charles Rice.  “Our partners will assist the districts with innovative practices on the Eastern Shore and to spread the word to potential farmers.  Financial assistance for these farmers will be provided through the Maryland Agricultural Cost Share Program and the RCPP Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) program funds.”

In Maryland, the focus will be on animal related conservation practices, including animal waste storage, stream fencing, heavy use areas and barnyard runoff. To meet Maryland’s new Phosphorus Management Tool requirements, conservation district staff will work with dairy farmers to install state-of-the-art liquid separation technology to overcome the cost of moving the liquid portion of manure long distances to crop fields that require more phosphorus.

“This grant is another step forward for Maryland agriculture’s commitment to resource conservation,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “We are very fortunate to have a strong group of partners in this project, and I am confident that this will have a tremendously positive impact to help Maryland farmers meet the State’s WIP goals.”

In Delaware, emphasis will be on crop production and expanded use of cover crops. On the Delmarva Peninsula, crop farmers will be advised on the recent research finding on innovative variable rate nitrogen application techniques (GreenSeeker) and be encouraged to sign up for advanced nutrient management practices. Conservation district staff will be trained on nitrogen removal woodchip bioreactors, which are showing up to 90 percent Nitrogen removal on trial sites.

“Delaware farmers are embracing the Soil Health movement and recognize the importance and value of including Cover Crops in their rotation,” said Delaware Association of Conservation Districts President Robert Emerson. “It’s a win-win for the environment and the bottom line”.

NRCS selected eight Regional Conservation Partnership Program projects within the Chesapeake Bay watershed in 2015. Through those eight projects, approximately $45 million in NRCS funding is now available to agricultural producers over the next five years. Partner contributions associated with these projects total over $35 million.

Learn more about RCPP at www.nrcs.usda.gov

Learn more about Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share program at mda.maryland.gov/resource_conservation/Pages/macs.aspx

Learn more about MASCF at www.mascd.net

 

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Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:

Julie Oberg
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888

Vanessa Orlando
Public Information Officer - Digital Engagement
Telephone: 410-841-5889


Jason Schellhardt
Public Information Officer - Media Relations
Telephone: 410-841-5744


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