State Aims To Pay For Pure Water
Initiative Will Foot The Bill For Livestock Exclusion
Posted: December 6, 2012
HARRISONBURG — State officials are launching a new program to entice farmers to keep livestock out of waterways.
The Virginia Enhanced Conservation Initiative, announced by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office Wednesday, will reimburse qualifying producers for 100 percent of the cost of implementing livestock exclusion systems.
Excluding livestock from waterways is one solution to rehabilitating the heavily polluted Chesapeake Bay.
Virginia and other states in the estuary’s watershed, along with the federal government, are struggling to fix the bay’s decades-long pollution problem. It stems from agricultural and urban runoff, wastewater treatment facilities, and other sources.
Livestock exclusion is one element of Virginia’s evolving pollution reduction plan, which is federally required and a point of contention among policymakers in Richmond and Washington, D.C., and local officials.
Virginia’s cost-share program previously covered 75 percent of the cost of the exclusion systems, which include fencing animals from streams and rivers on farms, vegetation buffers, watering troughs and wells and pumps.
“Keeping livestock out of rivers and streams is critical to reducing water contamination and pollution and to improving water quality throughout the state,” McDonnell said in a statement. “Studies have also shown that keeping livestock out of streams leads to healthier herds and fewer veterinary bills.”
About $3 million has been allocated for the program, which is open only to farmers who have an approved 2013 contract under the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share program, according to the statement.
“This will be very helpful for sure,” said Matt Yancey, a Rockingham County extension agent.
While the new program will help alleviate the financial burden for farmers, Yancey said the funding won’t last long, given how expensive the systems can be and how many farms there are in the state.
“I think that money’s going to go pretty quick,” he said.
Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or firstname.lastname@example.org