Farmers make case for the bay
On the Farm
By Ted Shelsby
Special to The Baltimore Sun
December 14, 2008
There are good reasons why people at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation say that, given a choice, they would rather see farmland stay farmland than be turned into residential development. That's because farms create less pollution for the bay than homes and commercial development, foundation officials say.
This is the primary reason for the warming of relationships between officials of the foundation and farmers, and it can be traced back to early 2006.
For years, the foundation blamed farmers for the bay's declining health. The environmental group acknowledges that that was a mistake. It is now working with farm organizations to improve the profitability of farms so that farmers can continue to work the land.
Unfortunately, the farmers' voice was not as loud at legislative hearings in the General Assembly in past years. And farmers were not being given fair credit for their conservation achievements.
After years of denigrating farmers around the Chesapeake Bay, environmentalists have finally come to realize that farmers are their best friends when it comes to cleaning up the bay. Keeping producers on the land preserves these open spaces and, amazingly, farmland filters water much better than streets and parking lots. Ag producers were the original environmentalists and the newcomers are finally starting to realize that.