Farming for Clean Water
“We’re doing this to keep the streams clean
and keep the nitrogen back out of the
streams,” Terry Bennett said of fencing
along Roe Creek. “We did it to keep the cattle back away from the creek. We’re happy
with the whole process, otherwise we
wouldn’t be doing it.”
The Claude Bennett Farm in Montrose,
Susquehanna County, is a prime example of
how funding, collaboration, and confidence
in multiple agricultural conservation practices can help produce the results
Pennsylvania needs to achieve clean water.
The 240-acre property has been a hub of
activity by local, state, and federal partners
intent on improving farm efficiency, maintaining the health of the herd, and protecting the water quality of two creeks that
amble through it.
CBF collaborated with the Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) on installation of more than 7,700
feet of fencing to keep the 80 cows and 30
calves out of 77 acres that includes the
creeks and woodlots.
CBF also assisted with planting 1,400
trees and shrubs to create forested buffers
along the creek and on a hillside. Funding
came from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture’s (USDA) Conservation Reserve
Enhancement Program, which pays 90 to 140
percent of the installation cost and annual
rent, which is usually $40 to $240 per acre.
The Bennett project also qualified for
CBF’s Buffer Bonus program and a Growing
Greener grazing grant, which earned it
$27,500 to supplement support from
the Environmental Quality Incentives
Program (EQIP) for a concrete barnyard and
grazing practices that are not cost shared.
EQIP provides financial and technical assistance and is funded by the Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) through USDA.
CBF, Pheasants Forever, DEP, USDA, and
the Susquehanna County Conservation
Another potential source of funding for
agricultural conservation practices could be
a severance tax on natural gas extraction
proposed by new Democrat Governor Tom
Wolf. It was a major obstacle for the
Republican-controlled legislature and one
of the reasons for a budget stalemate that
lingered well into September, beyond the
June 30 deadline.
CBF believes there is an immediate need
for additional revenues to support programs and initiatives that will clean up
Pennsylvania waters and get the
Commonwealth back on track toward its
CBF has also been calling on USDA to follow through on its commitment to priori-tize technical and financial resources for
Pennsylvania, to help it achieve milestone
goals for forested stream buffers and other
Assessments of Pennsylvania’s progress
by EPA indicate that the Commonwealth
is significantly behind in meeting its Blueprint
goals for reducing pollution from agriculture.
It will take funding, collaboration, and-farmer buy-in for the Blueprint, as demonstrated on the Bennett farm, to get
Pennsylvania back on track to leaving a
clean-water legacy for future generations.
uFor more information on other happenings
in Pennsylvania, visit cbf.org/Pennsylvania.
practices can produce
the results Pennsylvania
needs to achieve
Terry and Pat Bennett look over new fencing and a streamside buffer along Roe Creek on their
Susquehanna County farm. Other conservation practices being put into place on the farm
include a concrete barnyard and manure storage.