Chesapeake Bay Inspection Program
About the Program
Chesapeake Bay Program
The Chesapeake Bay Program started in 1983 as a voluntary cost-share program that provided $30,000 toward Ag best management practices on farms to address nutrient and sediment pollution. Over the years with the deterioration of the Chesapeake Bay due to nutrient and sediment runoff, regulations increased and the program underwent drastic changes. A Bay Special Projects Program was funding to address increased concerns in the Chesapeake Bay.
As a part of an executive order to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by President Obama in November of 2011 all farms that had livestock, poultry or equine that produce and import manure are required to develop a manure management plan under chapter 91 regulations. In addition, if farms actively farm fields with any type of tillage equipment, including no till, they must develop an Ag Erosion and Sedimentation Plan under Chapter 102 regulations. Both plans are required of farms to achieve minimum compliance in Pennsylvania.
The Bay Program requires Conservation Districts and the Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that farms have the plans needed for minimum compliance. This was achieved initially by conducting bay visits to inform farmers of plan requirements. Now as time passed, ag inspections are done to ensure all farming operations have all the necessary plans.
In Montour County the Conservation District began developing manure management plans and Ag Erosion and Sedimentation Plans for farmers in the county early on in the process. Due to the plan development conducted, over 90% of the farms in Montour County have their required manure management plans and have implemented best management practices to address nutrient and sediment runoff concerns as required by the plan. Also, nearly 200 Ag erosion and sedimentation plans have been developed for Ag compliance where approximately 60% of farms are in compliance with 102 requirements.
Challenges moving forward are the development of Ag Erosion and Sedimentation Plans for landowners that own farmland but do not farm the ground.