Proving Clean Water and a Healthy
Farming Economy Can Coexist
I’m proud to be a seventh-generation farmer and a
conservationist in southern Maryland. The lands and
waters where I farm, hunt, fish, and boat are a precious
gift I’m borrowing from my two daughters, and my future
grandchildren. That’s why I’m committed to protecting
our natural resources—both through my own farming
practices, and working with federal and state government,
industry, and private groups including the Chesapeake
The Chesapeake Bay watershed is home to more than 83,000
farms. Area farmers have taken responsibility for our share
of nutrient and sediment pollution in the Bay and worked to make changes.
We have tripled the use of cover crops in the region—nearly 500,000 acres
in Maryland alone—to prevent nitrogen and phosphorous from washing into
tributaries. In the last seven years, phosphorous and sediment runoff from
agriculture has decreased by 50 and 75 percent, respectively.
It’s no surprise that farmers across America are looking to Bay-area farmers
for best practices. Through the Soil Health Partnership, the National Corn
Growers Association is promoting innovative voluntary farming practices
that promote sustainability and a commitment to continuous improvement.
In the past ten years, the ag community has invested hundreds of millions
in conservation programs, with help from federal and state resources. In
Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan has made a historic investment, nearly
$330 million, to preserve the Bay. Voluntary and incentive-based federal
and state conservation programs are a worthwhile investment.
In 2016, the Bay received its best health rating in 25 years. It’s important
to remember that it takes 20-50 years for the benefits of farmers’ efforts
to be reflected in the Bay; the good things we’re seeing today are the result
of farming improvements adopted voluntarily over the last several decades.
Despite the policy conflicts and controversy of the last several years, we are
confident improvements will continue thanks to farmers’ efforts today and
in the future.
I applaud agriculture’s progress and committment to keep working. Every
day, we are proving that a healthy Bay and a healthy farming economy can
and do coexist—and that’s something we can all celebrate.
Chairman, National Corn Growers Association