A New Era For Chesapeake Conservation Funds - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

A New Era For Chesapeake Conservation Funds

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SALISBURY, Md. - The new Farm Bill doesn't earmark any money for the Chesapeake Bay, but legislators have found a way to keep bay projects funded.

The USDA has identified eight critical regions which will be eligible for conservation funding: the Great Lakes Region, the Mississippi River Basin, the Longleaf Pine Range, the Columbia River Basin, the California Bay Delta, the Prairie Grasslands, the Colorado River Basin, and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

In the past, Congress allocated funds specifically for the Bay. But the new conservation program, called the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) streamlines four programs, including the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative, into one.

 

RCPP will get funding from three pools:

-35% directed to critical conservation areas

-40% directed to regional or multi-state projects through a national competitive process

-25% directed to state-level projects through a competitive process established by NRCS state leaders.

So, that means Bay conservation projects will get funding by default, for being a critical conservation area. But it could also get funding beyond that, by those "competitive processes," which function similarly to competitive grant programs.

Under the plan, private companies and local communities will partner with the government for projects, which could affect local farmers who need to meet clean water requirements.

Joanna Kille, Director of Government Relations for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, calls it "a partnership between different entities [under which] farmers try to develop conservation programs. For example, a non-profit, like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, would work with a farmer to follow best management practices."

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