Understanding and Supporting Your Agricultural Allies

Local governments have a vested interest in a strong agriculture industry. Agriculture provides many benefits to communities, including locally produced food, agrarian character and jobs. Farmers have a long legacy of protecting natural resources and safeguarding water quality. Local elected officials can work with farmers to achieve outcomes that benefit the agriculture industry, the community and the environment.

Read the video transcript

In this topic you will learn

  1. How does agriculture benefit my community?

  2. What goals do I have in common with farmers?

  3. What can I do to support my agricultural allies?



Most farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are between 45 and 64 years old, or 65 and older. Without younger generations getting involved or interested in farming, family farms are being sold. You can combat the loss of farmland by highlighting agricultural careers in schools and at public events, and by supporting youth agricultural organizations like 4-H.

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Economic Development

There are over 168,000 farms in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, covering 28 million acres. More than 20% of the watershed is used for agriculture. The agriculture industry accounts for more than 184,000 jobs in watershed states. The value of agricultural products sold in the Bay watershed totals $28.1 billion.

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Public Health and Safety

Food insecurity disproportionately affects populations that are minority, immigrant, rural, and economically vulnerable. Local agriculture can improve access to healthy foods.

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Infrastructure Maintenance and Finance

Tax revenue from the agriculture industry can be substantial. Since farms are often on large tracts of land, they contribute financially to local school systems and other infrastructure.

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Case Studies You'll Find Inside

Cattle Farm

Swoope, Virginia

Agricultural Practices Reduce Water Pollution

Bobby Whitescarver enrolled in Virginia’s cost-share program to fence his cattle out of his streams and develop a rotational grazing system. Participating in the program allowed him to distribute watering stations throughout his farm, exclude his cows from calving along steep streambanks and other high-risk areas, reduce local water pollution and make his operation more efficient and more profitable.

A farmer moves a small herd of beef cattle on her farm in Swoope, Virginia. The herd is kept out of the Middle River by stream fencing and riparian forest buffers. (W. Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

Here's How You Can Help

An icon of three people, two blue and one green. Connect with and act as a liaison between farmers, technical service providers, nonprofits and funders.
An icon of green plants with a blue water drop at the bottom right corner, indicating a wetland. Champion the connection between clean water and agriculture.
An icon of a blue and a green hand mid-handshake, indicating collaboration. Collaborate toward mutual wins, like installing agricultural best management practices in order to mitigate stormwater runoff.

Learn More About This Topic


Learn what motivates potential cooperators in West Virginia to enroll a portion of their farmland in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

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