RICHMOND—Virginia Farm Bureau Federation this week re-affirmed its support of the federal lawsuit filed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The suit was filed Jan. 10 to block the EPA’s total maximum daily load or "nutrient diet" regulatory plan for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. VFBF, which represents about 38,000 Virginia farm households, is one of 51 state Farm Bureaus that make up the AFBF.
"This has never, ever, been about dodging farmers’ responsibility for sound environmental practices," said VFBF President Wayne. F. Pryor. "The American Farm Bureau and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau initiated the lawsuit because the EPA has exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act by trying to dictate its will upon states in the bay watershed. We support their assertion that the TMDL plan is based on flawed computer models, and we believe the plan could be disastrous for farms in Virginia and the other five bay watershed states.
"We know our Pennsylvania and national affiliates did not make the decision to go to court lightly," Pryor said. "It was their only option left to challenge the EPA’s over-reach. The fate of farms, other businesses and whole communities in the mid-Atlantic are at stake."
Environmental groups led by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation announced May 25 that they are asking a federal judge to let them join the court battle in support of the EPA.
AFBF noted that a recent report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service revealed a much brighter picture of farm conservation practices than the EPA’s model. Specifically, the report revealed that 96 percent of farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have implemented erosion control practices on cropland acres in production. It also said sediment contributions from cultivated cropland to the bay's tributaries have been reduced by 64 percent, while phosphorus was reduced by 43 percent and nitrogen by 36 percent between 2003-2006.
In addition, NRCS said pollution has been reduced by another 15 percent to 20 percent over the past five years.
Contact Wilmer Stoneman, VFBF associate director of governmental relations, at 804-290-1024.