The USDA is offering another round of water quality improvement grants to farmers in Chesapeake Bay watersheds. This time, they’ll be able to supply more funding, thanks to new partners in the Delmarva region.
The grants from the federal agency’s Natural Resources Conservation Service are being offered as part of a conservation initiative called Field to Stream. It’s led by a recently formed partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the Delaware Maryland Agribusiness Association.
Amy Jacobs is the watershed restoration director at the Nature Conservancy’s Maryland chapter. She says this partnership will allow the USDA to work with more farmers.
“We’re able to bring in an additional $5 million to Delmarva. If we didn’t compete for that, it could’ve gone to anywhere else in the country. By bringing it here, it gives NRCS more money to write contracts with farmers," said Jacobs.
That $5 million will be spread out over the next five years.
Delaware farmers in the Choptank, Nanticoke and Pocomoke watersheds can apply for nearly $1.4 million in funds. The money will help implement practices, like wetland restoration and planting cover crops, that can reduce harmful levels of nutrients in the watershed.
“So we’re trying to find solutions that help farmers farm well and keep agriculture here and very productive. And also minimize the amount of nutrients that are leaving fields and entering into our waterways," said Jacobs.
The deadline for farmers to sign up for the program is Friday, March 18.