Baltimore, Md. – At the annual meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council, representatives from the six Chesapeake Bay watershed states, the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a directive in support of increasing technical assistance to the farmers of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“Maryland is fortunate to be home to countless natural assets, but for us none is more important than the Chesapeake Bay”, said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “Today’s meeting is a critical opportunity to review some of our successes, acknowledge our challenges and forge a path forward together with our regional partners that will help us to accomplish even more. I believe very strongly that if we embrace a spirit of bipartisan cooperation, together we can find real, common sense solutions to protect the Bay and preserve this national treasure for future generations.”

The Chesapeake Executive Council, established 35 years ago, is responsible for guiding the policy agenda for the Chesapeake Bay Program and setting conservation and restoration goals. Members include the governors of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, the Mayor of the District of Columbia, the Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Administrator of the EPA on behalf of the federal government.

“Through the Chesapeake Bay Program, we are making significant progress reducing pollution and improving the health of the Bay, as demonstrated by the current record acreage of underwater grasses,” said acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today, we signed a directive to assist farmers in conservation efforts, so we can work together to meet our pollution reduction goals and continue to improve the water quality of local streams and the Bay.”

The directive recognizes the crucial role that farmers play in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, while acknowledging the need for increased technical assistance to help the agricultural sector in meeting their pollutant reduction goals. The EPA recently released its evaluations of the progress each of the six watershed states and the District of Columbia are making toward meeting their pollutant reductions goals under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL).  While considerable progress has been made in reducing the pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay since the Bay TMDL was first put into place, the agriculture sector is identified as one in which additional work is needed. The Bay TMDL calls for all pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers to be in place by 2025.

“Growing up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, I witnessed the decline of the Bay, and I am personally encouraged by the clear evidence of an improving Bay”, said Governor Northam. “Bipartisan collaboration, such as the work of the Chesapeake Executive Council, will be essential to build on our past successes and continue progress through new and tougher challenges.  Through our actions today, the Executive Council spotlights the critical need for workforce development.  My administration is committed to building and sustaining the agricultural technical expertise necessary to achieve our clean water goals.”

“Our farmers are strong stewards of the land and their contributions to improving water quality have been immense,” said Senator Frank Wagner, Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. “But to achieve clean water throughout the Bay watershed, we need to do even more.  The directive signed by the Executive Committee today helps ensure farmers will have the assistance they need to finish the job. Last year, the Chesapeake Bay Commission issued a report focused on the technical assistance farmers need to improve both water quality and their bottom-line.  The Executive Committee of the Chesapeake Bay Program – the political leadership of the watershed – have now adopted the report’s core recommendations.  The farmers are willing to do the job.  It’s our job to get them the help they need.”