2021-06-27 Department of Agriculture
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On Sept. 7, Pennsylvania lawmakers turned to their attention to a 737 million dollar national environmental initiative, the Chesapeake Bay Resilient Farms Initiative (CRFI).

The initiative supports Pennsylvania farmers who take action against climate change. It specifically calls for sustainable agriculture practices that reduce nitrogen output, improve water quality, and effectively decrease negative impacts of climate change on agricultural production.

"Last week, we all saw the devastating and deadly impacts of climate change as Hurricane Ida swept across our nation, leaving it’s mark not only on the hurricane-prone states to the south, but also Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey,” said Governor Wolf.

“As we rebuild, we need to rethink how we can all do our part to mitigate against climate change. Pennsylvania agriculture has stepped up to the challenge and has a plan; farmers are waiting to jump into action. We just need support, as was provided to the Mississippi River Basin, to get moving.”

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary, Russell Redding, signed his support for the Chesapeake Bay Commission's proposal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The initiative would impact the six Chesapeake Bay watershed states over the next decade. With the agriculture industry responsible for 80 percent of nitrogen reductions, this program is critical to increasing capacity and making this goal feasible for the industry to accomplish.

“In agriculture, we not only have the responsibility to harvest food to feed the world, but we have the opportunity to harvest carbon and make a real impact on the climate of the world we leave for the next generation,” said Redding. “This plan makes implementing conservation practices realistic for our farmers through voluntary cost-share programs that help us to achieve our co-equal restoration goals.”

Redding signed a joint letter with the agriculture secretaries of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New York that was issued to Vilsack on Aug. 25. 

The proposed CRFI program is modeled after the USDA-funded Mississippi River Basin Initiative and targets the sub-watersheds – particularly the Susquehanna River – that have the greatest impact on the Chesapeake Bay and offer the most cost-effective solutions.

Out of the six watershed states, Pennsylvania faces, by far, the biggest challenge with the Susquehanna River providing half of the Bay’s fresh water. However, with a targeted investment in Lancaster, York, Franklin, Cumberland, Lebanon, Bedford, and Centre counties, Pennsylvania could achieve half of its reduction goals and restore more than 19,000 locally impaired stream miles.

This article originally ran on northcentralpa.com.

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