Local Farmer Calls Conservation Program Too Restrictive

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

Jim Koogler is keeping tabs on his bills, but also on his 400 cattle.

"I would like to keep the fence, the creek fenced off. I would like to keep the cattle out of it," Koogler said.

That's what Governor Bob McDonnell is encouraging farmers to do through a program called Virginia Enhanced Conservation Initiative.

He's putting $3 million into a program called Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program (VACS).
The program pays back farmers who practice conservation.

However, under the VECI It's paying them back 100 percent.

Not just 75 percent when VACS started.

"I think people would be more likely to do it if they do that" Koogler said.

The cost-share program aims to reduce water pollution and contamination.

"When you put that many cattle into a smaller area of a creek, it does pollute. No question," he said.

Farmers in the program have to build fences around creeks and give cattle other sources of water.

Koogler said he looked into it, but he didn't agree with some of the restrictions

"If we stay 20-30 feet back from the stream, it would eliminate my whole pasture field," Koogler said.

He says he wouldn't mind putting a fence right by the creek.

Otherwise his cows would be too crammed in.

He said the payoff and the outcome doesn't add up.

"The restrictions were so that i felt that it wasn't worth money that I've got to give in to their restrictions only," Koogler said.

Other practices include planting trees and vegetation around streams.

To apply, farmers must first have an approved program year 2013 contract under VACS.

If you would like to apply to the program, you can contact their local district office for more information about VECI, as well as other incentive programs. To locate the nearest district office, visit http://www.vaswcd.org/

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