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Integrating Federal and State data records to report progress in establishing agricultural conservation practices on Chesapeake Bay farms

December 17, 2013

In response to the Executive Order for Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration (E.O. #13508, May 12, 2009), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) took on the task of acquiring and assessing agricultural conservation practice data records for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, and transferred those datasets in aggregated format to State jurisdictional agencies for use in reporting conservation progress to the Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership (CBP Partnership). Under the guidelines and regulations that have been developed to protect and restore water-quality in the Chesapeake Bay, the six State jurisdictions that fall within the Chesapeake Bay watershed are required to report their progress in promoting agricultural conservation practices to the CBP Partnership on an annual basis. The installation and adoption of agricultural best management practices is supported by technical and financial assistance from both Federal and State conservation programs. The farm enrollment data for USDA conservation programs are confidential, but agencies can obtain access to the privacy-protected data if they are established as USDA Conservation Cooperators. The datasets can also be released to the public if they are first aggregated to protect farmer privacy. In 2012, the USGS used its Conservation Cooperator status to obtain implementation data for conservation programs sponsored by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) for farms within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Three jurisdictions (Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) used the USGS-provided aggregated dataset to report conservation progress in 2012, whereas the remaining three jurisdictions (Maryland, New York, and Virginia) used jurisdictional Conservation Cooperator Agreements to obtain privacy-protected data directly from the USDA. This report reviews the status of conservation data sharing between the USDA and the various jurisdictions, discusses the methods that were used by the USGS in 2012 to collect and process USDA agricultural conservation data, and also documents methods that were used by the jurisdictions to integrate Federal and State data records, reduce double counting, and provide an accurate reporting of conservation practices to the CBP Partnership’s Annual Progress Review. A similar tracking, reporting, and assessment will occur in future years, as State and Federal governments and nongovernmental organizations continue to work with farmers and conservation districts to reduce the impacts of agriculture on water-quality.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2013
Title Integrating Federal and State data records to report progress in establishing agricultural conservation practices on Chesapeake Bay farms
DOI 10.3133/ofr20131287
Authors W. Dean Hively, Olivia H. Devereux, Peter R. Claggett
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2013-1287
Index ID ofr20131287
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geographic Science Center