ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — It’s not always obvious, but the Chesapeake Bay’s health is linked to farming.

According to Chesapeake Bay Foundation Scientist Dr. Beth McGee, “the majority of pollution coming into the bay is coming from agriculture, and one of the large funding sources to help reduce that pollution is through the federal farm bill.”

Farm Bill Will Make More Money Available For Chesapeake Bay, Md. Senator Says

Call it the money for manure plan — federal funds to help farmers control what comes out the other end.

That can mean something as basic as keeping livestock out of streams, by helping provide funds for fencing.

On Maryland’s eastern shore, it’s primarily about managing poultry waste. Tons of it.

For generations, it’s been used as a fertilizer for crops. But when it washes off the land, it feeds the algae blooms that create oxygen starved dead zones in the bay.

So $300 million in the new farm bill is set aside to be shared by eight critical conservation areas across the country, including the Chesapeake.

“Meaning we have way more folks that want to take advantage of them then there are dollars available. So hopefully through these changes we will have more dollars available for the Chesapeake Bay regions farmers,” says McGee.

Tripling the $100 million in the old farm bill for things like cover crops, which absorb left-over fertilizer before it reaches the bay.

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Alex DeMetrick

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