The budget approved by the 2017 General Assembly authorized the creation of a stakeholder group to find ways of stabilizing the portion of the Water Quality Improvement Fund (WQIF) that is allocated to the Agricultural Cost Share Program. Under this program, financial assistance is provided to farmers in the form of grants to pay for the installation of certain Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce pollutant loading into waters of the state from agriculture.
Because the WQIF is capitalized through deposits equal to 10 percent of end-of-fiscal year budget surpluses, the amount of money deposited into the WQIF is subject to fluctuations that adversely affect the program’s continuity.
The Agricultural Cost Share Program is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The agency’s director, Clyde Cristman, serves as chair of the stakeholder group. Legislative members include Delegate David L. Bulova, Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter and Senator Emmett W. Hanger.
The stakeholder group has about 20 members representing VA Farm Bureau, the Agribusiness Council, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, one local government representative (Richard Street | Spotsylvania County), and Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
The first stakeholder group meeting on May 17 provided an opportunity for members to discuss WQIF’s volatility. There was considerable discussion about adoption of a dedicated revenue source to assure a predictable stream of program funding. Alternative funding sources will be discussed at the Stakeholder Group’s next meeting, which is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 13 in the West Reading Room of the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond.
VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE