RICHMOND—Since Virginia launched its Resource Management Plan program in July 2014, 278 plans have been developed for farms in the commonwealth’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The program, created in the interest of meeting Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals, encourages farmers to voluntarily increase their use of agricultural conservation practices while crediting them for practices already in place. A goal of 40 plans was set for the program’s first year. “Resource Management Plans are critical to Virginia’s strategy to protect and restore the health of rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe. He said support from the state’s agricultural and conservation communities has been a major factor in the program’s success. The program enables farmers to have a private-sector plan developed for their property, incorporating practices that reduce pollution to local waters and protect soil health. Once a plan is approved and its practices implemented, a farm is deemed to be in compliance with state nutrient and sediment standards for the next nine years. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation manages the program in partnership with Virginia’s 47 soil and water conservation districts. Districts serve as the primary review authority for the plans. RMPs enable the state to document practices that have been installed with or without financial incentives, providing verified data to validate the agricultural sector’s level of participation in conservation practices. Better tracking of practices also gives decision makers more accurate data to determine funding needs for agricultural cost-share and other incentive programs. The 278 plans that have been developed cover 48,500 acres in the bay watershed. They include more than 1,800 best management practices to protect soil and water resources. Forty-seven farm owners and operators are participating. Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the state’s largest farmers’ advocacy organization, has long been a proponent of the RMP program. “Conservation practices have been in place on Virginia farms for generations,” said VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor. “The RMP program is a long-needed means of tracking those practices, and farmer participation in the first 18 months is a good indication of Virginia farmers’ commitment to stewardship.” Landowners who want more information on the RMP program can visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil-and-water/rmp or contact any soil and water conservation district office. Media: Contact Brian Coy, office of the governor, at 804-225-4260; Julie Buchanan, DCR, at 804-786-2292; or Pam Wiley , VFBF communications, at 804-290-1128.