Conserving the Waterways

By: Jarrod Aldom
By: Jarrod Aldom

It's said what's good for the goose is good for the gander. And in the case of a federal program, what's good for farmers in the area is good for the environment.

A Rockingham County farmer has been contracted with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to promote conservation in the Shenandoah Valley. And he says the program is off to a good start.

Mt. Crawford cattle farmer Kevin Craun works with farmers on state and federal programs aimed at reducing nutrient runoff pollution and improving water quality.

"A lot of farmers expressed interest in doing it, because they feel down the road they may be forced to do it," explains Craun, the Shenandoah Valley Farm Conservation consultant. "The more people that participate on a voluntary basis, the less likely it will ever be a regulated program."

Farmers like Neil Houff can recoup 75 to 100 percent of their expenses for installing conservation practices, from water pumping station to fencing, and most importantly, trees.

"Forested buffers remove a greater percent of nutrients than just grass buffers," says Craun. "But we also have a grass buffer program because it does remove nutrients also, and that is the CRP program."

As a further incentive, the program pays rent for the use of the farmer's land to farmers for between 10-15 years.

"This is the best program that I've seen that both meets the objective of clean water quality and covers the cost associated with that for the landowner," says Neil Houff, manager of Houff Feed and Fertilizer.

Craun says it costs much less to go out and help farmers solve pollution problems than it does to deal with it at the municipality level. The EPA says nutrient pollution is the most serious problem plaguing the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary.

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