State Sen. Hanger receives award for work impacting valley, Chesapeake Bay

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — The Chesapeake Bay Foundation recently awarded State Senator Emmett Hanger, R-24th, with their 2019 Legislator of the Year award for his work with helping to conserve the Chesapeake Bay.

A press release said Hanger has been a leader in making sure investments are made into farm conservation practices and other programs that help with improving water quality.

The environmental impact of run-off from cattle has been a concern, especially in the valley where there are many cattle farms. A recent report found more cattle should be fenced out of streams.

"There are a lot of pressures on farmers," Hanger said. "There are a lot of costs that they're incurring now."

The senator says investing in initiatives to help farmers is important. One program Hanger worked to bring more funding to is the agricultural cost-share program, which helps farmers cover the cost of implementing conservation practices, like fencing cattle out of streams.

Tim Clemmer, an Augusta County farmer, took advantage of the program. Through the program, the Clemmers added fencing to their property to add more grazing pastures and keep the cattle out of streams. They also added automatic water troughs. Clemmer said the program is something farmers should consider.

"Farmers, we just need to be educated. It's kind of an old rule with old school people," Clemmer said. "They don't want to do business with the government. But Headwaters Soil Conservation District here has good people to work with."

Clemmer added that the work has environmental benefits, and it helps them cover needed updates on their land. However, he said those updates can be expensive.

"The farmer can't afford to do it on his own. Depending on where you're located, it would be an automatic bankruptcy if the farmer had to fence his streams and creeks at his expense."

Hanger says that investment is something he hopes to continue.

"Over the next several years is continue within the state budget and the federal monies we can access to promote these programs and help the farmers."