USDA Claims Success in Chesapeake Bay

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is claiming some success in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. Earlier this year, the USDA along with the Environmental Protection Agency pushed for tougher regulations on pollution discharged into the Chesapeake Bay and into Chesapeake Bay tributary rivers across the mid-Atlantic.

According to Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, about 88 percent of farms in the region are currently using some form of reduced tillage production, which limits sediment pollution into the bay, proof positive, Merrigan claims, that American farmers are committed to conservation and are willing to work to protect natural resources.

The Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, which has existed in some form since the 1960s, is so far both costly and vital. Over the last several generations, the Chesapeake has become severely polluted. The oyster population in the bay has been practically annihilated and there are vast biological dead spots in the bay, devoid of virtually all life.

The EPA and the USDA, with the backing of President Barack Obama, instituted stricter guidelines and limited the amount of sediment that could be deposited into Chesapeake tributaries. These regulations have been hotly contested by agricultural groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation, who say that the regulation goes beyond the mandate of the EPA.

While the USDA has been offering financial incentives and resources to farmers in the region, the Farm Bureau claims that the EPA stated goals in the Chesapeake restoration project will cost thousands of acres of cropland in the region and will be detrimental to farmers across the mid-Atlantic.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer