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EPA, Department of Agriculture sign pact supporting clean water, healthy farms

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Delaware Department of Agriculture signed on Jan. 15 a five-year, first-of-its-kind memorandum of understanding to expand joint activities supporting the agencies’ shared goal of cleaner water and sustainable farms.

EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio and Delaware Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse signed the agreement at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington as part of Delaware Agriculture Week.

The MOU formalizes a partnership between the two agencies and expands activities to prioritize funding, coordinate on regulatory issues, recognize farmers for environmental stewardship and provide educational opportunities for producers.

“This agreement builds on the actions our agencies are taking together and with the broader agricultural community to promote a vibrant farm economy and clean rivers and streams,” said Servidio. “It is only fitting that the first MOU EPA is signing with a state agriculture department is in the First State.”

EPA is developing similar agreements with other states in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“Over the last couple of years, the Delaware Department of Agriculture has enjoyed a better relationship with the EPA Mid-Atlantic Region office,” said Scuse. “I believe this MOU will allow us to continue to build upon this relationship going forward into the future. One of the ways we have helped our producers is by hosting EPA Farmer Roundtables just like we did today. It provides an opportunity for both sides — EPA and members of the agriculture industry — to hear what the needs are and to open the lines of communication.”

The agreement was signed at the conclusion of an Agriculture Roundtable with EPA and members of the Delaware agricultural community, hosted by Scuse.

In the agreement, the agencies commit to the goal of “well-managed, sustainable farms that produce food for our communities and a clean environment for everyone to enjoy.”

Under the MOU, the agencies intend to

— Coordinate and leverage federal, state and private funding to support actions that enhance sustainable agriculture and environmental protection;

— Advance opportunities to provide EPA grant funding directly to the Delaware Department of Agriculture, particularly when it can improve the timely expenditure of federal funds;

— Host annual meetings with state and federal leaders on priorities and activities, as well as joint trainings to ensure effective implementation of federal and state regulatory programs;

— Sponsor Agriculture Roundtables and farm tours to foster a dialogue between EPA and the agricultural community on successes, challenges and opportunities to work together;

— Participate in state program assessments to identify best practices and opportunities, and further compliance; and

— Collaborate on an annual report to highlight achievements under the MOU.