Virginia Agricultural BMP / Cost Share and Tax Credit Programs
Reductions in nonpoint source(NPS) pollution can be attained by reducing activities that produce NPS pollutants, reducing the amount of pollutants generated by an existing activity and reducing the negative effects these pollutants can have by controlling their dispersal. To that end, NPS best management practices (BMPs) are important tools in controlling NPS pollution and environmental contamination.
While there are many sources of NPS pollution, agriculture is among the most significant in Virginia. Because agriculture requires many acres, its potential impact on water quality is great. For example, one EPA study estimates that 27 percent of the phosphorus and 60 percent of the nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay originate from cropland. These pollutants need to be controlled to protect the environment.
DCR administers programs through local soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) to improve or maintain water quality in the state’s streams, lakes and bays through the installation or implementation of agricultural BMPs. Through the programs, financial and technical assistance are offered as incentives to carry out construction or implementation of selected BMPs.
Funding varies by district. The state provides funds to the districts for targeted priority hydrologic units. Areas with the greatest need, therefore, receive the greatest funding.
Assistance is available year-round to individuals willing to carry out an approved conservation plan. The business of farming requires as much planning and organization as any other. Strategies to protect surface and ground water should be in those plans. Many plans qualify but all must be approved by the local district board to participate in these programs. Districts seek and recruit individuals whose efforts can make the greatest positive impact upon water quality.