Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Open-File Report 2013–1287

Integrating Federal and State Data Records to Report Progress in Establishing Agricultural Conservation Practices on Chesapeake Bay Farms

By W. Dean Hively, Olivia H. Devereux, and Peter Claggett

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (10.4 MB)Abstract

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.

First posted December 16, 2013

For additional information, contact:
Director, Eastern Geographic Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
521 National Center
Reston, Virginia 20192

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). For best results viewing and printing PDF documents, it is recommended that you download the documents to your computer and open them with Adobe Reader. PDF documents opened from your browser may not display or print as intended. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.


Suggested citation:

Hively, W.D., Devereux, O.H., and Claggett, Peter, 2013, Integrating Federal and State data records to report progress in establishing agricultural conservation practices on Chesapeake Bay farms: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1287, 36 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)




Data Confidentiality: USDA 1619 Conservation Cooperator Agreements

Data Collection and Processing

2013 and Onward: The Drawing Board for Further Improvements




Appendix A: Key Contacts

Appendix B: 1619 Conservation Cooperator Agreements

Appendix C: USGS-USDA Data Requests

Appendix D: USDA Practice Code Lookup Tables

Appendix E: Crosswalk Between USDA Practice Codes and Scenario Builder

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 10:41:11 AM