PRESTON, MD – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) signed a five-year, first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tuesday, Sept. 29 to expand joint activities supporting the agencies’ shared goal of cleaner water and sustainable farms.
EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio and Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder signed the agreement at ARK Farms in Caroline County, Maryland in front of a small group of EPA representatives, MDA staff, and several members of the Caroline County Soil Conservation District Board.
The MOU 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 MOU 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.
“Maryland farmers are known across the nation as leaders in conservation practices like cover crops and no-till,” said Bartenfelder. “Living in such close proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, protecting the environment and improving water quality is top-of-mind for Maryland farmers. This agreement between MDA and the EPA strengthens the commitment our agriculture industry has to environmental stewardship.”
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 MOU, the agencies intend to:
- Coordinate and leverage federal, state and private funding to support agricultural conservation practices and environmental protection.
- Advance opportunities to provide EPA grant funding directly to the Maryland 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 farm tours to foster a dialogue with the agricultural community on successes, challenges and opportunities to work together.
- Participate in state program assessments to identify best practices and opportunities, and further compliance.
- Collaborate on an annual report to highlight achievements under the MOU.
Photos from the MOU signing can be found on the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Flickr.