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Media inquiries: Please contact Gary Waugh, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-5045.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: February 13, 2007
Contact: Gary Waugh, DCR Public Relations Manager, (804) 786-5045, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov

Farm conservation awareness pilot program launched in Virginia's Valley Region

Radio, print and billboard advertising campaign designedto encourage increased adoption of state’s Cost-ShareProgram and agricultural best management practices

(RICHMOND, Va.) – In an effort to increase participationin government-funded programs that compensate farmers foradopting water-pollution-reducing practices, the VirginiaDepartment of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is launchinga pilot advertising program that targets farmers in 15 ValleyRegion counties.

The ultimate goal: improve water quality by reducing nonpointsource pollution. (Nonpoint pollution is generally definedas the runoff from agricultural and urban areas.)

The advertising campaign, including radio, print and billboardads, begins this week within the six Soil and Water ConservationDistricts throughout the Shenandoah Valley. It was developedin response to the dramatic increase in conservation practicescalled for to meet the state’s Chesapeake Bay restorationgoals.

“Many Virginia farmers are conservation leaders, butto meet our water quality goals for the Chesapeake Bay andthe rivers that flow into it we need to triple the farm landwith conservation practices,” said Joseph H. Maroon,director of DCR. “For that reason we needed to lookat new ways to encourage more farmers to put widely acceptedbest management practices to use. This campaign is designedto improve awareness of the resources that are available – resourcesthat can help farmers more readily adopt the most effectiveconservation practices.”

In appealing to farmers, the advertising strikes a balancebetween the pressure farmers feel to produce and their desireto conserve. Most of the ads encourage farmers to either attenda specific event (e.g. a Crop Production Field Day) whereconservation practices will be presented or to visit theirlocal Soil and Water Conservation District for informationon state- and federal-funded cost-sharing programs.

The advertising campaign, conceived and produced by McFaddenClay Marketing Group of White Stone, Va., grew out of qualitativeresearch commissioned by DCR into farmers’ awarenesslevels and attitudes toward government-funded cost-share programs.The Valley Region was selected to pilot the advertising campaigngiven its agricultural variety and comparatively low mediacosts. The campaign will be evaluated to see how it will bestbe used in the future.

[Note to media: electronic copies of the ads are availableupon request.]

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