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Have Chesapeake Bay Watershed Farmers Done Enough?

The Chesapeake Bay is beginning to recover nicely. Urban and industrial sectors still have much to do. So are tougher ag regs really necessary?

Have farmers already done enough for the benefit of Chesapeake Bay water quality? It depends on who you ask.

The question is sure to draw ire and fire from inflexible, die-hard environmentalists. They would vehemently respond with “No!”

But this week, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced a very positive sign of bay recovery, crediting farmers and conservation programs. The crab-happy governor reported that Chesapeake Bay blue crab populations are at a 19-year high, and that there are more than 66% more juvenile crabs in the bay – the highest on record – 587 million.

I’d sort of like to know how he counted them. But that’s a another story for another time.

But we should be asking . . .

Isn’t it time for U.S. EPA, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Waterkeeper’s Alliance to put their minds and mouthpieces (and their lawyers) where they would better serve the continuing cleanup of the bay – urban and industrial pollution?

May it’s time they quit crabbing, litigating and victimizing agriculture. After all, there are bigger fish to fry – and thankfully bigger crabs to boil.

And maybe it’s time to give ample credit to farmers all the way from New York State’s Otsego Lake headwaters watershed to those farming around the estuaries down to Chesapeake, Va.

No, I’m not saying that farmers can’t do more to boost water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, they’ll continue to do more with ample incentives, and without sharper regulatory whips.

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