Inspections by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) under its expanded Chesapeake Bay agricultural inspection program indicate that approximately 40% of farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed do not have required manure management plans, erosion and sediment plans, or both. DEP has been implementing its expanded Chesapeake Bay inspection program for approximately one year. The inspection program is part of Pennsylvania’s overall efforts to reduce the amount of nutrients and sediments flowing into local streams and ultimately to the Chesapeake Bay.
During the past year, DEP inspected approximately 12% of farmland, 3,093,000 acres, located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These inspections were conducted under both the expanded Chesapeake Bay inspection program and the Commonwealth’s Act 38 Nutrient Management Program. Most of the inspections were performed by county conservation district staff, although DEP staff will conduct inspections in a number of counties, including York and Dauphin Counties.
Most farms are required to have one or more plans in place to manage manure and reduce erosion from farming activities. DEP’s inspections generally focused on whether farms had the appropriate plans in place and not whether the plans were actually being implemented. DEP is pursuing enforcement against farmers who are not meeting their planning requirements. It is also likely that DEP will be expanding the scope of its inspections over time.
Enforcement actions by DEP could include the issuance of orders and/or monetary penalties. Attorneys at Stock and Leader are available to advise farmers on required plans and to assist farmers if they are the subject of DEP enforcement actions.