Conservation in the 2019 General Assembly
Commonwealth’s Investment in Conservation
Protecting our agricultural lands, scenic, historic and natural resources, and helping farmers implement sound farming practices is important to securing a successful future for the Valley.
State matching funds make it possible for landowners to do more conservation, so:
- We are excited about record budget levels ($89.7 million in FY19 and FY20) for cost-share funding for agricultural practices that improve water quality. We are also pleased by the continued commitment to help localities reduce stormwater runoff, and
- We are disappointed that funding for the land conservation grant programs critical for continued preservation of our historic, cultural and natural resources were not increased. Current funding for these programs falls well-below state-determined needed levels.
Check out the video of Shenandoah County’s family run D&M Farms sharing an example of all the good that can come out of state and federal cost share programs for agricultural best management practices. Not in the video, but working with Mike and Nathaniel Dirting on the farm are Linda Miller and her son, Brent.
Thanks Choose Clean Water Coalition for the beautiful video!
Distressed Dairies and Nutrient Management Plans
We supported a bill by Delegate Wilt and Landes to establish a tax credit for dairy farmers who implement clean water practices. Last year, Virginia lost 10% of its dairy farms – an average of one a week. Under the proposed bill, dairy farmers with a nutrient or resource management plan could be eligible for tax relief. Though this legislation did not pass, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been instructed to study the potential financial impacts of the policy for consideration again next year.
Best Management Practices for Construction and Maintenance
Another bill we followed passed the house and senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature. This bill introduced by Delegate Webert and Wilt authorizes loans and grants from the Virginia Water Facilities Revolving Fund for the construction, renovation, improvement, or equipping of facilities or structures to implement agricultural best management practices to prevent pollution of state waters. Current law authorizes the Board to only issue loans for the construction of such facilities.
We remain committed to continuing to working with our elected officials to ensure a more robust commitment to the long-term conservation of the natural resources, cultural heritage and rural character of the Valley.
Looking for an overview of I-81 legislation? Find that here.