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Va farmers oppose bay cleanup changes

Anita Kumar

Virginia's farmers came out today against a federal proposal to clean up the Chesapeake Bay that they said has the potential to put some farmers out of business.

Officials with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, which has nearly 175,000 members, said the proposals would lead to new requirements without much-needed financial assistance.

"Virginia farmers are commited to bay restoration efforts. We've been doing our part for decades,'' said Wayne Pryor, the group's president. "Now we feel that we are being unfairly blamed for the majority of the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay."

Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Congress are proposing changes to the bay cleanup plan including new stormwater runoff standards.

The organization plans to write letters, contact elected officials and advertise as part of their effort to oppose the proposal. It also will ask the General Assembly for more money to help them pay for the possible mandates next year.

"If they issue mandates, it is going to be money that is needlessly spent, money that I don't have at this time to spend," said Donna Kerr, an Amelia County dairy farmer. She said she and her husband have already voluntarily implemented conservation measures on their 200-head dairy farm, including covering crops to prevent pollution runoff and soil erosion.

The news conference was held during the group's annual convention in downtown Richmond.

Later, the conservation group Environment Virginia criticized the farmers for their stance.
"We have the opportunity to take a new direction in bay restoration efforts," said the group's J.R. Tolbert. "After 25 years of unmet goals, and lax enforcement on pollution standards the federal government is serious about restoring the health of the
Chesapeake Bay."

By Anita Kumar  |  December 2, 2009; 3:28 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2010  
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The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation has nearly 150,000 members -- not 175,000.

Posted by: owenssarak | December 2, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

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