Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) were joined by state officials and Seaford cattle farm owners Carlton and Jody Jones to highlight conservation accomplishments in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, working with farmers and other local stakeholders, has achieved historic levels of conservation implementation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed during the past two fiscal years, leading to water quality improvements, wildlife habitat enhancement and support of rural economies.
NRCS helped Chesapeake Bay farmers like the Jones family, forest landowners, and other partners voluntarily install conservation practices or actions on a total of 650,000 acres of working lands. Since 2004, NRCS has provided more than $500 million to help farmers install or apply conservation practices. In addition, the 2008 Farm Bill provided assistance to farmers and forest landowners through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI), which focuses funding and other resources on priority areas identified by NRCS and its partners. Through the use of CBWI and other Farm Bill programs, NRCS staff helped landowners to voluntarily implement over 60,000 new conservation practices in the watershed in fiscal year 2011.
The Jones' farm is within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and about 35 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. With the help of NRCS and the Sussex Conservation District, they have addressed water quality, nutrient management, soil conservation and air quality by implementing prescribed grazing, forage harvest management, pasture and hayland planting, cover crops, windbreaks, irrigates forage for maximum yield and nutrient uptake and feeds to beef cattle.
"One thing I truly believe is unique to the first state and that I'm particularly proud of is the way Delawareans have worked together over the past several years to help protect the quality of our land and of our water for future generations," said Sen. Carper. "The First State leads the nation in nutrient management planning participation which proves that Delaware farmers are true environmental stewards and taking this charge very seriously."
"Voluntary conservation practices make a tremendous difference as we work to support our local farmers while protecting and sustaining our precious natural resources for generations to come," Senator Coons said. "Delaware farmers continue to raise the bar when it comes to committing themselves to best management practices that protect and preserve the land they farm, as well as the natural resources that surround them. What has been accomplished in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed should not only be celebrated, but should also serve as a model for other areas in the state, region and the nation."
NRCS staff has helped landowners voluntarily apply or construct the following conservation practices in priority watersheds and across the Chesapeake Bay region:
262 new waste storage facilities to help farmers manage manure
151,689 acres of nutrient management to improve the rate, timing, and method of nutrient application
7,114 acres of access control to exclude livestock from streams
121,573 acres of reduced tillage to reduce soil erosion and improve soil quality
136,501 acres of cover crop to reduce nutrient losses
65,317 feet of terraces to control soil erosion