RICHMOND—Farmers across the state are being encouraged to participate in five public meetings organized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to discuss the proposed Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, an enforcement plan to limit nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment runoff in the bay watershed. Public hearings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 4 at James Madison University, Oct. 5 at the Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College, Oct. 6 at the University of Richmond and Oct. 7 at the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina Hotel. A webinar has been scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. on Oct. 7 at www2.gotomeeting.com/register/689259867 . Details and a webinar registration link are available at epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl . The draft of the TMDL plan for Virginia can be viewed online at dcr.virginia.gov/soil_and_water/baytmdl.shtml . The public comment period on the plan will run through Nov. 8. Virginia submitted its first-phase draft of the bay TMDL plan to the EPA on Sept. 3. Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech has expressed concerns about the cost of implementing the plan and about the accuracy of the computer model on which the EPA has relied in requiring bay state TMDLs. Their concerns are shared by Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, which includes in its membership about 38,000 farm households statewide. 'We are actively monitoring this process,' said VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor, 'and we are encouraging our members to stay informed about the Virginia plan—and to use this opportunity to speak up. Nothing less than the future of our farms is at stake, and I can assure you Virginia’s farmers are engaged.' Contact Wilmer Stoneman, VFBF associate director of governmental relations, at 804-290-1024.