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Farm Bureau has raised concerns about the cuts to the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The Governor’s budget cut $2.046 million of support for operations and technical assistance distributed to the 47 local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
This concerns Farm Bureau because of the water quality goals contained in the Watershed Implementation Plan for the Chesapeake Bay that apply to agriculture hinges on implementation of conservation practices by farmers. Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts are the “hands on the ground” in working with farmers in implementing voluntary and cost-shared conservation practices. Without a strong local delivery and reporting system, farmers may not be able to achieve the goals set forth that are applicable to agriculture.
Farm Bureau is encouraging its members to ask the members of the Virginia General Assembly to restore these funds and look at adequate and stable funding for this local delivery system.
Farm Bureau has also raised concerns about the funding available for farmers for implementation of agriculture best management cost share practices. While Farm Bureau appreciates the infusion of funding in the 2011 General Assembly, this infusion is not consistent for the next two fiscal years. Farm Bureau is awaiting the Secretary of Natural Resources Ag BMP Cost Share Needs Assessment analysis. Farm Bureau believes this analysis will show that this conservation practices cost share program will not be funded at a level in order to allow farmers to meet the water quality goals.