Farmers, you have a story to tell. We all do, and naturally, we most often stay quiet. Today I’m asking Pennsylvania farmers to consider your options. You are doing a lot to manage natural resources on your farm. Sure, the improvement wish list is long, but even now you are operating numerous conservation practices. Are you telling your story? Because there are people who need to hear it.
While you are out there today planting a winter cover crop to keep your productive soil in place, there are people in Harrisburg (with plenty of pressure from Washington, D.C). calculating how Pennsylvania will decrease the amount of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorous reaching our water. And who are they assigning most of the work to? You may have guessed it — farmers.
Sure, other community members have improvements to make, but consider the data Pennsylvania is currently working with.
In Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed (half of the state) plans suggest that farms will deliver 74% of nitrogen reductions with remaining reductions made by forestry, stormwater, and wastewater sectors.
Agriculture might be asked to deliver 60% of phosphorus and sediment reductions. Do they know about that winter cover crop you planted? Do they know you are producing crops with minimal soil disturbance? How about the managed grazing system you are developing, the stream side areas you are managing, or the manure handling improvements you’ve made? All these practices reduce pollution, but they can’t be counted if the right people don’t hear.
Your conservation district likely takes great interest in helping you tell your story, but we cannot tell it for you. We consider work we do with you confidential.
Hugh Hammond Bennet, who first imagined the idea of a conservation district, said “The conservation district belongs to the farmer, and I hope it will always remain so.” Most farms understandably want to maintain maximum distance from government interference, and we respect that. However, have you considered the value of proactively telling Pennsylvania what you’re doing? Might the fear of being known be a myth? Have you considered how to lead your industry in this? Should you wait to react or move with intention?
You probably also know that consumers want to hear your story, valuing, perhaps more than ever, food produced with environmental awareness. They would like best to hear it directly from you.
Your conservation district would like to know farmer’s opinion in this matter. Should producers be proactive, or should they hold their cards? We can’t tell your story for you, but we are ready to help you tell it to the people who need to hear, if you want them to know.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.