EPA, Pennsylvania Sign Agreement to Expand Efforts Supporting Clean Water, Healthy Farms
STEVENS, Pennsylvania – (October 2, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture signed a five-year, first-of-its-kind Letter of Understanding (LOU) on Wednesday to expand joint activities supporting the agencies’ shared goal of cleaner water and sustainable farms.
EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio and Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding signed the LOU at Worth the Wait Farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
The LOU formalizes a partnership between the two agencies and expands activities to prioritize funding, coordinate on regulatory programs, recognize farmers for environmental stewardship, and enhance opportunities for a dialogue with the agricultural community.
“This agreement builds on the actions our agencies are taking together and with the broader agricultural community to promote a vibrant farm economy and clean rivers and streams,” said Servidio. “This LOU formalizes our work together in the pursuit of solutions that are good for both agriculture and the environment.”
EPA has developed similar agreements with other states in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“These past few months have made it crystal clear to the public that having food on their tables depends on having farms that are functioning at the top of their game and ready for whatever nature throws at them,” Redding said. “The Landis family farm models soil and water conservation practices that ensure a healthy farm that will keep producing food now and in the future. We’re pleased to cement this agreement on just such a farm in Lancaster County, where what happens on the farm affects healthy food, healthy water and healthy communities for our whole Mid-Atlantic region.”
In the agreement, the agencies commit to the goal of “well-managed, sustainable farms that produce food for our communities and a clean environment for everyone to enjoy.”
Under the LOU, the agencies intend to:
- Coordinate and leverage federal, state and private funding to support agricultural conservation practices and innovative approaches to advance sustainable agriculture and environmental protection.
- Advance opportunities to provide EPA grant funding directly to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, particularly when it can improve the timely expenditure of federal funds.
- Convene annual meetings with state and federal leaders on priorities and activities, as well as joint trainings to ensure effective implementation of federal and state regulatory programs.
- Co-host Agriculture Roundtables and Educational Farm Tours to foster a dialogue with the agricultural community on the successes, challenges, and opportunities to work together to achieve well-managed, productive farms and a clean environment.
- Collaborate with the Pennsylvania Future Farmers of America (FFA) to pursue opportunities for FFA members to learn about environmental issues and policies affecting agriculture.
- Promote environmental stewardship efforts that contribute to efficient farms, healthy soils, and clean water.
- Cooperate with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) and other appropriate entities to develop approaches to measure and account for farmers’ conservation efforts and the resulting environmental benefits.
- Participate in state program assessments to identify best practices and opportunities, and further compliance.
- Collaborate on an annual report to highlight achievements under the LOU.
“Lancaster County’s rich agricultural history dates back for generations,” said Speaker of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster). “Our farmers are also often innovators in their areas of expertise, and I am excited to see our federal leaders turning to our area’s farms to help find solutions to some of modern farming’s biggest challenges.”
In addition to the LOU signing, Secretary Redding and Regional Administrator Servidio joined the American Dairy Association North East to recognize Worth the Wait Farm for the 2020 Dairying for Tomorrow Environmental Stewardship Award.
The PA Ag / EPA signed LOU can be viewed here.