Governor Terry McAuliffe on Monday presented 10 farmers with 2014 Virginia Grand Basin Clean Water Farm Awards for implementing practices to protect water quality. The governor also recognized the first Virginians to implement an agricultural resource management plan under a newly created program.
The presentations took place in Roanoke at the annual meeting of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
“I applaud these farmers and farm owners for doing what’s right for their businesses and what’s right for our natural resources,” Governor McAuliffe said. “They have chosen to take important steps toward protecting water quality across the Commonwealth. Winners of the Virginia Grand Basin Clean Water Farm Award stand out because of their exemplary implementation of conservation practices that, in many cases, also improve their financial bottom line. They truly are role models for producers across the state.”
The Clean Water Farm Award recognizes farm owners and operators who have adopted and implemented innovative conservation tools, technologies and practices that reduce the amount of runoff pollution entering local waters. Each recipient was nominated for the award by their local Soil and Water Conservation District. Top winners are selected from each of Virginia’s 10 major river drainage basins.
“Only with the continued hard work and commitment of our agricultural producers will we be able to meet our water quality goals for all of Virginia, including the Chesapeake Bay” said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “These farmers show that water quality protection and profitable and sustainable farming go hand in hand and I applaud their accomplishments.”
2014 Grand Basin Clean Water Farm Award recipients:
Big Sandy and Tennessee River
James M. “Mike” Harris, Tazewell County
Nominated by the Tazewell County Soil and Water Conservation District
Scott Bridgeforth of Windy Hills Farms, Lunenburg County
Nominated by the Southside Soil and Water Conservation District
Rick Hall of Loblolly Farms, Accomack County
Nominated by the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District
Ronnie Morris of Fox Mountain Farm, Albemarle County
Nominated by the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District
Brian and Kayla Umberger of Mountain Spring Farms, Wythe County
Nominated by the Big Walker Soil and Water Conservation District
Joe Rogers, Jr. of Terra Farms, Loudoun County
Nominated by the Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District
Frank and Janet Ott of Marshfield Farms, Fauquier County
Nominated by the John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District
David and Liisa Wallace of Mulberry Farm, Patrick County
Nominated by the Patrick Soil and Water Conservation District
Willis and Krystal Heatwole of Bethel Bend Farm, Rockingham County
Nominated by the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District
Helen Marie Taylor of Bloomsbury Farm, Orange County
Nominated by the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District
In addition, Governor McAuliffe recognized Clem and Keith Horsley, who own and operate Holly Springs Farm in Gloucester County. The Horsleys are the first to fully implement a resource management plan through a new state program that encourages farmers to use high-level conservation practices to reduce runoff pollution into local waters. The voluntary program launched in July. Farmers and farm operators who implement resource management plans are deemed to be in compliance with any new state water quality and sediment requirements for nine years.
“Resource management plans are a key part of Virginia’s strategy to clean up rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay,”Governor McAuliffe said. “In addition to expanding farmers’ use of conservation practices, the program also will give us better data about practices already being implemented. I’m proud to join Virginia’s conservation community in recognizing the Horsleys for their contribution to clean water.”
Both the Virginia Clean Water Farm Award and resource management plan program are administered by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, in partnership with Virginia’s 47 Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
For more information about either program, visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil_and_water, or contact a local soil and water conservation district office.