Agriculture is an important economic and social component to the Pennsylvania Lake Erie watershed, which has direct influence on water and land resources. Due to the longer growing seasons along Lake Erie, the region is host to grape vineyards, as well as peach, apple, and cherry orchards that are unique to this portion of Pennsylvania.
News and Initiatives
- Pennsylvania Vested in Environmental Sustainability (PA VinES) The PA VinES program was initiated with a vision of creating an environmentally, economically, and culturally sustainable market for viticulturists in Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie Basin. Local agricultural partners including the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Lake Erie Grape Research and Extension Center, Cornell Cooperative Extension, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and Erie County Conservation District are facilitating this initiative. The mission of the group is to foster and promote concepts of environmental consciousness and sustainability through education, outreach, and self-assessment to reduce conflicts between viticulture and water quality in the Lake Erie basin. In 2016, the Erie County Conservation District received a Growing Greener Grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to implement outreach, education, and best management practices to the vineyard industry to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution to Lake Erie. The project includes developing outreach materials and completing demonstration projects at three sites within the Lake Erie watershed. For more information, visit the Erie County Conservation District website.
- Erie County Farmland Preservation The Erie County Farmland Preservation Program protects viable agricultural land by encouraging the formation of Agricultural Security Areas in rural municipalities and acquiring Agricultural Conservation Easements on property whose owners are interested in preserving higher value agricultural lands. Agricultural Security Areas encourage, promote, preserve, and protect normal farming operations, and Agricultural Conservation Easements prevent the development of the land for any purpose other than agricultural production and related agricultural activities. For more information visit the Erie County Farmland Preservation website or contact John McGranor at (814) 451-7329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Pennsylvania defines a CAFO as a concentrated animal feeding operation with greater than 300 animal equivalent units, any agricultural operation with greater than 1,000 animal equivalent units, or any agricultural operation defined as a large CAFO under 40 CFR 122.23(b)(4) relating to concentrated animal feeding operations (Pa. Code Chapter 92a Subchapter A). Those operations that meet this definition are required to obtain an NPDES permit for discharges that occur from the operations. Currently, two permitted CAFOs are located in Pennsylvania Lake Erie watershed (Walnut Creek and Conneaut Creek). For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection CAFO website.
- Nutrient Management Pennsylvania's current nutrient management law, commonly known as "Act 38" was signed into law as part of the Agriculture, Communities, and Rural Environment (ACRE) policy initiative. Act 38 replaced Act 6, Pennsylvania's first nutrient management law, passed in May 1993. Under the law, Concentrated Animal Operations (cAos) are required to develop and implement nutrient management plans. For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Nutrient Management Program website.