National Survey, Virginia Program Noting Farms’ Conservation Efforts

creek crossover for cattle (2)

Creek crossover for cattle

The National Agricultural Statistics Service is conducting its second annual survey to measure the environmental benefits associated with conservation practices on agricultural land.

Virginia’s Resource Management Plan program, which just entered its third year, is also noting efforts by farmers to protect the environment.

Since Virginia launched its RMP program in July 2014, 320 plans have been developed for farms in the commonwealth’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Created in the interest of meeting bay cleanup goals, the program encourages farmers to voluntarily increase their use of agricultural best management practices and documents their current practices.

“The Resource Management Plan program gives farmers a great opportunity to receive credit for their conservation efforts and to educate the nonfarming community on the water quality benefits agriculture provides,” explained Scott Ambler, Department of Conservation and Recreation resource management program coordinator.

NASS is contacting 25,000 farmers and ranchers through August as part of its survey of conservation practices on U.S. agricultural land. The findings will help further develop science-based solutions for managing farms and ranches to improve environmental quality.

“The survey gives farmers and ranchers the power to provide a more complete and accurate picture of the conservation practices on their operations,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “If contacted, I encourage farmers and ranchers to participate.”

Virginia farmers “have a long history of voluntary best management practices,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Frequently, when producers install BMPs without technical or financial assistance from the government, their conservation efforts go uncounted. It’s important for these voluntary BMP measures to be counted to give credit where credit is due and to help guide conservation program policy and environmental regulations.”

Additional information about the NASS analysis is available on the Conservation Effects Assessment Project survey web page at www.nass.usda.gov/Surveys/Conservation_Effects_Assessment_Project/index.php.

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