Farm Bureau part of group that receives environmental award

The San Benito County Farm Bureau is part of a six-county
coalition of the Central Coast County Farm Bureaus, which has
received an environmental protection award from the Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary for its work to protect water quality
The San Benito County Farm Bureau is part of a six-county coalition of the Central Coast County Farm Bureaus, which has received an environmental protection award from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary for its work to protect water quality.

The coalition was formed in 1998 to facilitate farmer and rancher participation in water quality issues, specifically the development of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Water Quality Protection Program.

“What is gratifying about receiving this award is it shows environmental groups farmers and ranchers are making headway towards better management practices,” said Anthony Botelho of the San Benito County Farm Bureau. “It shows environmental and agricultural groups can work together in a partnership.”

In each county, farmers and ranchers have tackled watershed-quality issues related to agriculture, making voluntary changes to their operations to improve the water quality.

“We recognize that we live in an unique environment and the farmers would rather have a voluntary program rather than regulatory one,” Botelho said.

Another goal set by the coalition is to show the state Water Resources Board that farmers can minimize water-quality impact issues.

“We have a water-quality monitoring program so we can make sure we aren’t the problem,” Botelho said.

As a result of the partnership between the coalition and the sanctuary, conservation plans have been developed for 97,200 acres of crop and range land with conservation plans being applied on more than 77,000 acres of crop and range land.

“On prime soils, we’ve promoted the use of cover crops while also designing a drainage plan for your farm,” Botelho said.

More than 258,000 tons of soil were prevented from eroding into the sanctuary and more than 30,000 acres have been protected from soil erosion.

To prevent runoff from over-grazing on rangeland, ranchers have put up fences along waterways and applied rotational grazing practices. This helps keep the soils on the farms while protecting streams and waterways from the sediment runoff, Botelho said.

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