Cleaner Water

Fishable, Swimmable, Drinkable Water

From the Great Falls of the Potomac, to the bald cypress swamps of the Pocomoke River, to the shores of Assateague Island, Maryland boasts some of the most beautiful waters you’ll ever see, including the majestic Chesapeake Bay.

Nothing is more deeply intertwined with Maryland’s history, culture and identity than our relationship with the Bay and its rivers. Its abundance of fish, shellfish and waterfowl has sustained the people living on its shores for millennia.

Healthy, biodiverse agricultural systems are essential to maintaining the health of the Chesapeake Bay and coastal bay watersheds. The Water Reporter 2Whether it’s the Youghiogheny in Western Maryland or the Nanticoke on the Eastern Shore, the health of our local waters is incredibly important to Maryland families. We all need clean water to drink and unpolluted waterways to support our economy, our enjoyment of the outdoors, and our overall way of life.

Some estimates put the Bay’s value at more than one trillion dollars when factoring in fishing, tourism, property values, and shipping activities.

Agriculture is the single largest source of pollution impacting the Bay.

Eastern Shore rivers – where intensive animal agriculture dominates the rural landscape – are among the most polluted waters in our region. Without reliable farm management practices in place, sediment, fertilizer and manure flow into the Bay. This pollution causes algae blooms that give rise to “dead zones” where underwater grasses, fish, blue crabs and even oysters die from lack of oxygen. The runoff from agriculture can also contain harmful bacteria that cause human illness and even life-threatening skin infections.

Cleaner Water 2While the threats posed by intensive agriculture are daunting, there are reasons to be hopeful. Maryland has begun phasing in rules regarding how much manure farmers can safely apply to their fields without risking runoff into nearby waters.

Community organizations, conservation groups, and government agencies are working on a science-based cleanup plan with clear milestones to give us a chance to achieve a restored Chesapeake Bay in our lifetimes. To reach these goals we must continue to hold government agencies accountable for their oversight of the agricultural industry and promote farming practices that are fair in every sense of the word.

Fair Farms engages consumers in efforts to promote sustainable farming practices and rein in manure and other sources of farm pollution. It takes teamwork to raise a barn, and it will take teamwork to turn the tide towards farming that promotes fertile soil, food free of toxic chemicals, better welfare for animals, and the thriving waterways our communities need and deserve. Support Fair Farms effort by taking the pledge to be a Fair Farms consumer and supporting sustainable agriculture. 

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