COCKEYSVILLE, Md. (AP) — The U.S. Agriculture Department is kicking off a Chesapeake Bay watershed cleanup program with an event in the Baltimore suburb of Cockeysville.

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin organized Friday’s meeting with officials including state Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance and Jason Weller, chief of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

They’re touring an area farm and meeting with local farmers to highlight the availability of federal funds for projects aimed at reducing fertilizer and sediment runoff from private land into the bay.

The six-state watershed is one of eight “critical conservation areas” the USDA has designated for special attention under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

The watershed includes parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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