ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) today announced that $10 million in conservation assistance is now available to help livestock farmers in northern Maryland counties install best management practices on their farms to improve manure management and protect water quality in streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Counties eligible for assistance include Allegany, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, and Washington.
“I am excited to announce that this new funding will provide livestock farmers with the resources they need to protect our natural resources and to help Maryland meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The Maryland Department of Agriculture is staunchly committed to working with our regional partners to protect the health of the bay and to make it as easy as possible for our farmers to do so.”
This funding comes from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) agreement awarded in 2020 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The funding assistance will be available for five years. Maryland’s RCPP proposal was developed to help the state meet its agricultural nutrient reduction goals for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries by providing farmers with targeted solutions to improve the way they manage manure.
The application period is open now through March 19. Conservation practices funded by this agreement include a range of stream protection practices and barnyard management practices that have been shown to improve water quality.
Stream protection practices eligible for funding include:
Livestock exclusion fencing to keep animals out of streams;
Livestock stream crossings;
Alternative water facilities for livestock; AND
Riparian forest buffers planted next to streams to control erosion and nutrient runoff.
Barnyard best management practices eligible for funding include:
Animal waste storage facilities;
Livestock heavy use areas to improve mud and manure management;
Roof runoff structures to safely convey rainwater runoff away from the barnyard area; AND
Roofs and covers installed over waste management facilities.
Maryland farmers are encouraged to contact their local soil conservation districts as soon as possible to get their projects evaluated and ranked following NRCS standards. Visit MDA’s website for more information on Maryland’s resource conservation programs.
–Megan Guilfoyle, Maryland Department of Agriculture