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Farm Conservation Practices on Water Quality Highlighted
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 08/08/2018

Pennsylvania residents learned how conservation and farming can work hand-in-hand to improve soil and water quality, wildlife habitat, and farm animal health during a tour of a Lycoming County farm held by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Approximately 45 attendees, including members of the public and the media, toured the Ted and Tracey Barbour Farm, a small, family-operated beef cattle farm, as part of DEP Connects, a new program inviting the public to engage with DEP in their communities through events hosted by the department's six regional offices.

"The health of local waterways depends on individual stewardship decisions made by landowners, especially agricultural producers, whose operations can create significant benefits that flow downstream to every community below them," said DEP North-central Regional Director Marcus Kohl. "The Barbour Farm is a great example of taking voluntary, incremental, achievable steps that we hope others will emulate. One-by-one, these best management practices add up to create monumental change in the landscape."

Guests on the tour also saw a solar panel array on the farm's 100-year-old barn and learned how harvesting the sun supports the farm operation. The solar array not only generates clean, renewable energy for use on the property, but it also feeds electricity fed back into the power grid and generates renewable energy credits, both of which are sold to create a supplemental income source for the farm.

"This event demonstrated that small and medium-sized family farms can access a variety of resources to increase their environmental and economic sustainability, supporting the farm operation's viability for future generations," said Kohl.

Representatives from DEP's North-central Regional Office, the Lycoming County Conservation District, and the USDA Farm Service Agency were on hand to discuss the importance of conservation practices and resources available to landowners. The Barbour Farm was recognized by the Lycoming County Conservation District in 2013 as their "Cooperator of the Year" for their environmental stewardship efforts.

The event was part of the new DEP Connects public engagement program, in which each of DEP's regional offices hosts a series of in-person events, targeted to specific topics of interest and geographic areas within the region. All Pennsylvania residents are invited to learn more and sign up for DEP Connects by visiting www.dep.pa.gov/DEPConnects.

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