With consumers expressing more interest in sustainability and responsibly produced foods, ADA North East is helping dairy farmers build trust in their farming practices and commitment to stewardship. Click below to find information about available technical and financial resources to help dairy farmers meet their conservation project goals.

If you are aware of other resources that should be posted to this page, please email our team.

Source Water Buffer Program

About:
The goal of the Source Water Buffer Program is to protect active sources of public drinking water and to support, expand, or enhance water quality protection through the purchase of conservation easements on agricultural lands. Such projects shall preserve or establish buffers for surface or ground waters which serve as, or are tributaries to, public drinking water supplies.

Funding for this opportunity is provided through the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 with approximately $5 million available for the purchase of conservation easements on agricultural lands that support, expand, or enhance water quality protection of active public drinking water sources. These are including but not limited to aquifers, watersheds, reservoirs, lakes, rivers, and streams. Program funds will also be available for the implementation of Riparian Buffer Systems within the conservation easement area that will provide further water quality protection.

Location(s):
Eligible agricultural lands must be:

  • Directly adjacent to surface waters designated as a drinking water source;
  • Directly adjacent to tributaries that drain to designated drinking water source;
  • Wetland areas directly adjacent to surface waters designated as a drinking water source;
  • Within a wellhead protection area designated by the NYS Department of Health; or
  • Within the contributing area directly adjacent to an aquifer sinkhole.

Application Deadline:
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis.

For More Information:
If you are interested in learning more or participating in the Source Water Buffer Program, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District.

Agriculture Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

About:
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is accepting applications for the Agriculture Energy Efficiency Rebate Program. The program provides rebates to assist agricultural producers with the purchase of LED lighting or variable frequency drives (VFD) for their farming operations.

Rebates are offered for–
— $2,000 rebate for LED lighting in agricultural buildings (up to 50 percent of equipment purchase costs).
— $2,000 rebate for VFDs for milk vacuum pumping (up to 50 percent of equipment purchase costs. Pump horsepower 5 hp or greater).
— $2,000 rebate for VFDs for ventilation in agricultural buildings (up to 50 percent of equipment purchase costs. Fan motor horsepower 5 hp or greater).

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Applications are being accepted effective September 20, 2021, and rebates are offered on a first-come, first-served basis as long as funding is available, through March 31, 2022.

For More Information:
Click here for instructions on how to apply.

For more information, visit DEP’s Agriculture Energy Efficiency Rebate Program webpage. Questions should be directed to RA-EPAgEnergyProgram@pa.gov or 570-327-3783.


Small Business Advantage Grants to Support Water Quality Restoration, Energy Efficiency, Pollution Prevention Projects

About:
Pennsylvania DEP is now accepting applications for up to $1 million in Small Business Advantage Grants on a first-come, first-served basis. The program assists small businesses undertaking energy efficiency, pollution prevention or natural resource conservation projects. This is a first-come, first-served grant program that provides up to 50% in matching grants, up to a maximum of $5,000, for all project types. Eligible projects must save the small business a minimum of $500 per year and at least 25% in annual energy consumption or pollution-related expenses. Natural resource protection projects are exempt from the minimum savings requirements. Projects must quantify the sediment and nutrient diversion from the directly related receiving waterway to be eligible.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Applications accepted on first-come, first-served basis.

For More Information:
Visit DEP’s Small Business Advantage Grants webpage. Questions should be directed to DEP’s Small Business Ombudsman by sending email to: RA-epAdvantageGrant@pa.gov or calling 717-783-9640.


Discounted Pollinator Seed Mix for Agricultural Lands

About:
The Audubon Society of Western PA is offering 50 percent off a special pollinator seed mix for Monarchs, bumblebees, and other native pollinators on agricultural land in Pennsylvania. ASWP, in partnership with Ernst Conservation Seeds, developed a custom native seed mix to support Monarch butterflies, bumblebees, and other imperiled pollinators.

This project will benefit both pollinators and farmers. Native pollinators are important for crop pollination. Farms can provide critical habitat for native pollinators.

Field and road borders, fallow fields, and areas near streams and ponds are ideal locations to incorporate pollinator habitat without impacting production.

ASWP will ship the seed mix to your location.

Click here for context of the seed mix, how to prepare a site for planting and other resources. Click here for a one-page summary of the program.

ASWP is able to cover the cost of 50 percent of the seed blend (not including shipping) for agricultural land in Pennsylvania during 2021-2022.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Unknown

For More Information:
Contact Sarah Koenig, ASWP Conservation Director, at skoenig@aswp.org or (412) 963-6100.


Columbia County Expanded Cover Crop Reimbursement Program

About:
The Columbia County Conservation District expanded its cover crop reimbursement program to include annual and perennial pollinator strips, planting green, rolling cover crops, and establishing field borders. These practices are for new acres only and are intended to build upon the work already being done by farmers to improve soil health and wildlife habitat.

Interested farmers can receive an incentive payment based on the acreage of each practice they complete to offset the cost of seed and continued maintenance.

Location(s):
Columbia County

Application Deadline:
Unknown

For More Information:
Contact Patrick McCarthy at (570) 317-9468.


Voluntary Conservation to Support Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry

About:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $10 million to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry through voluntary conservation practices in 10 targeted states, including Pennsylvania. This assistance, available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), will help agricultural producers plan and implement voluntary conservation practices that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change on working lands.

Producers in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin can apply for this funding opportunity. Each state will determine its own signup period, with signups expected to begin on or around June 24 in most states. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which administers EQIP, selected states based on demonstrated demand for additional support for climate-smart practices.

This pilot will be expanded through a comprehensive effort across all states and programs to support farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in fiscal year 2022.

Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers and landowners with financial assistance and one-on-one technical support to plan and implement voluntary conservation practices. The outcomes are a benefit for producers and the environment, with producers conserving natural resources and delivering environmental benefits while building resiliency to strengthen their working land.

While NRCS offers a broad array of conservation practices, the agency identifies a sub-set as critical for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and ultimately mitigating the impacts of climate change. These climate-smart conservation practices will be prioritized in this targeted EQIP signup period and support systems for:

• Building soil health.
• Improving nitrogen management.
• Improving livestock waste management systems.
• Enhancing grazing and pasture management.
• Improving agroforestry, forestry and upland wildlife habitat.
• Improving conservation management for rice production.

Producers can visit NRCS’s EQIP webpage for a list of the specific climate-smart conservation practices.

Location(s):
Multiple states, including Pennsylvania

Application Deadline:
Unknown

For More Information:
States will rank applications for funding based on expected climate change mitigation benefits. Producers can contact the NRCS office at their local USDA Service Center to learn more, including specific state deadlines to apply and the selection process for awarding contracts.

Producers and landowners in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are encouraged to work with their local NRCS office to begin the application process. USDA encourages historically underserved producers and landowners to apply and will work with partner groups to ensure funds are equitably distributed.


Resource Enhancement and Protection Farm Conservation Tax Credits

About:
Pennsylvania farmers can receive $13 million in tax credits for measures to improve soil and water quality. The tax credits are available through Pennsylvania’s Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP).

REAP tax credits are available to agricultural producers who implement best management practices or purchase equipment that reduces nutrient and sediment runoff, enhancing soil and improving the quality of Pennsylvania’s waterways.

Farmers may receive up to $250,000 in any seven-year period, and spouses filling jointly can use REAP Tax Credits.

Examples of funded projects include no-till planting and precision ag equipment, waste storage facilities, conservation plans, Nutrient Management Plans.

Measures that limit run-off from high animal-traffic areas like barnyards, as well as cover crops and riparian stream buffers that prevent erosion and keep nutrients out of streams are also common REAP-eligible practices.

Farmers may receive REAP tax credits of 50 to 75 percent of the project’s eligible out-of-pocket costs.
Farmers whose operation is in a watershed with an EPA-mandated Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) can receive REAP tax credits of 90 percent of out-of-pocket costs for some projects.

Tax credits can be used in conjunction with other funding sources such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), the Chesapeake Bay Program or Conservation Excellence Grants to help install BMPs.

REAP applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Baseline eligibility includes compliance with the PA Clean Streams Law and the Pennsylvania Nutrient and Odor Management Law.

Private investors may act as project sponsors by providing capital in exchange for tax credits. Any individual or business subject to taxation by Pennsylvania through personal income tax, corporate net income tax, the bank shares tax or others is eligible to participate in REAP.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
This is a first-come, first-serve program until available funding runs out.

For More Information:
For all the details, visit the Department of Agriculture’s Resource Enhancement and Protection webpage.


Conservation Support in Lancaster, Lebanon, Dauphin Counties

(From Lancaster Farming article: Ambitious Conservation Program Covers Total Costs for Farmland Improvements)

About:
A million-dollar grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will pay the total costs of riparian buffers and other conservation practices on farms in three contiguous watersheds in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster, Lebanon and Dauphin counties.

Project partners include Penn State University; Lancaster, Lebanon and Dauphin County conservation districts; USDA NRCS; USDA Agricultural Research Service; Lancaster Farmland Trust; Stroud Water Research Center; Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance; Susquehanna River Basin Commission; Chesapeake Conservancy; Londonderry Township and other local municipalities; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay; and local farmers.

Location(s):
The grant covers 220 square miles of heavily farmed land in watersheds drained by the Chiques, Conoy and Conewago creeks in Lancaster, Lebanon, Dauphin counties.

Application Deadline:
Unknown

For More Information:
Lauren Shaffer
Agricultural Outreach Specialist
Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center
Phone: 717-364-2044
Email: las6435@psu.edu

High-Priority Agricultural Conservation Practices Now Available for 100% Cost-Share Grants

About:
The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced that over 20 high-priority agricultural conservation practices are now eligible for cost-share funding of up to 100% through the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program. Installation of these practices by farmers will help Maryland meet its 2025 Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals.

Qualifying practices must have at least a 10-year maintenance life; provide environmental benefits that are consistent with Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plan; and focus largely on in-field or edge-of-field practices that protect local waterways from nutrient runoff associated with crop production. In addition, these practices are required to be implemented as part of a current Soil Conservation and Water Quality Plan developed by a local soil conservation district.

Practices now eligible for up to 100% cost-share funding and free technical assistance include:

  • Conservation drainage practices
  • Conservation cover
  • Critical area planting
  • Diversion
  • Stream exclusion fencing
  • Field border
  • Filter strip
  • Grade stabilization structure
  • Grassed waterway
  • Lined waterway or outlet
  • Riparian forest buffer
  • Riparian herbaceous cover
  • Sediment basin
  • Terrace system
  • Tree and shrub establishment
  • Wetland restoration or creation

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Unknown

For More Information:
Interested farmers should contact their local soil conservation district to apply for cost-share funding and to receive free technical assistance to design and install these practices. To be eligible for cost-share assistance, applicants must be in good standing with MDA, the MACS Program and in compliance with Maryland’s nutrient management regulations. Other restrictions may apply.

For more information, please contact MDA’s Conservation Grants Program at (410) 841-5864 or visit the website.


Farming for Health Soil Grants

About:
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has received a three year, $1 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to promote healthy soil practices to farmers. The grant will provide participating farmers with technical assistance, as well as financial assistance ranging from $10 to $55 per acre, per year to install key soil health practices. Funding for soils data sampling is also available.

We are seeking farmers to enroll study fields in any of the following:

  • Conservation Tillage
  • Multi-Species Cover Crops
  • Extended Season Cover Crops
  • Prescribed Grazing
  • Precision Nutrient Management

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Unknown

For More Information:    
Kevin Antoszewski
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Office of Resource Conservation
kevin.antoszewski@maryland.gov


Cost-Share Grants Expanded to Include Natural Filters, Pasture Fencing

About:
The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced that four new conservation practices are now eligible for cost-share funding up to 87.5% through the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program. These practices involve adding woody vegetation in and along fields to serve as natural filters. Additionally, state cost-share funding has been expanded to help Maryland farmers install livestock fencing systems that improve pasture management.

Trees and shrubs help to improve water quality by filtering runoff and reducing soil erosion. They also work to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and improve soil health, all while creating biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Once fully implemented, these natural filters will help Maryland meet its water quality goals for the Chesapeake Bay and help to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere.

New practices now eligible for funding and technical assistance include:

  • Windbreaks – Rows of trees and shrubs planted to filter runoff, reduce soil erosion caused by wind, enhance wildlife habitat, improve air quality, and sequester carbon in the soil;
  • Hedgerows – Small trees, shrubs, and grasses planted along the edges of farm fields or along roads to filter runoff and act as a living fence and wildlife corridor;
  • Silvopasture – Integrates trees into active livestock pastures to filter runoff, provide shade and shelter for livestock, and sequester carbon;
  • Tree and Shrub Establishment – Establishes trees and shrubs on agricultural land outside the stream corridor to improve water quality and sequester carbon; and
  • Pasture Fencing – Allows farmers to develop rotational grazing systems that improve forage, distribute manure more evenly, protect the soil from erosion, and improve water quality.

Applicants must be in good standing with the MACS Program and in compliance with Maryland’s nutrient management regulations to be eligible. Other restrictions may apply.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Unknown

For More Information:
Interested farmers should contact their local soil conservation district to apply for cost-share funding and to receive free, technical assistance to install new practices. For more information, please contact the department at 410-841-5864 or visit the MACS Program website.

NRCS Announces Sign-Up for 2022 Program Offerings

About:
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) New Jersey is now accepting FY2022 applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with one-on-one help and financial assistance to plan and implement conservation practices to address a variety of issues such as water quality degradation, soil erosion, soil quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife.

Special Initiatives include Conservation Activity Plans (CAP), Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) and the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).

AMA is a voluntary conservation program available to beginning and limited resource farmers, small farms, and producers who have had limited participation in other USDA financial assistance programs. Producers eligible for AMA can apply for financial and technical assistance to voluntarily address resource issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporating conservation into their farming operations.

Through RCPP, NRCS seeks to co-invest with partners to implement projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to conservation challenges and provide measurable improvements and outcomes tied to the resource concerns they seek to address. New Jersey’s two new RCPP land management projects are:

Protecting Source Water Protection in the Raritan Basin – In partnership with the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, conservation systems and practices on farms in the project area will be implemented to promote source water protection.

Salem River Bog Turtle Protection and Restoration – Lead partner, New Jersey Audubon, will help private landowners increase wildlife habitat and habitat suitability for the endangered Bog Turtle population in the Upper Salem River Watershed by offering financial incentives to install and maintain conservation practices.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
October 22, 2021

For More Information:
Applications are available through your local USDA Service Center and online at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted. NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs year-round and they’re processed when funding becomes available. Interested producers can learn more about New Jersey Farm Bill programs on the NRCS NJ website.


Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)

About:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). ACEP helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms and ranches through two types of conservation easements: Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE).

Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps protect working agricultural lands and limits non-agricultural uses to protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food while supporting environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat, and protection of open space. This component is also available for grasslands of special environmental significance, or high-quality grasslands under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development, and other non-grazing uses.

Landowners interested in ACEP- ALE must work with a cooperating entity who will submit the required application materials. NRCS does not accept applications directly from producers. State and local governments, non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs, and several New Jersey land trusts are eligible to help interested landowners apply.

Wetland Reserve Easements allow landowners to successfully enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect and enhance wetlands through the purchase of these easements, and eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Applications that meet eligibility and ranking criteria for ACEP received by October 29 will be considered for 2022 funding.

For More Information:
To apply for ACEP-ALE, or for more information, please contact Gail Bartok, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, at 732-537-6042 or Lauren Lapczynski, Easement Specialist, at 732-537-6046.

Applications for ACEP-WRE are available through your local USDA Service Center and online at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

Delaware Producers Encouraged to Apply for Assistance to Improve Natural Resources

About:
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications from Delaware agricultural producers who are interested in conservation activities to improve the health and productivity of their agricultural land. Financial and technical assistance are available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program.

EQIP and AMA assistance are available to help farmers plan and implement conservation practices to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forest land. Popular practices include waste storage structures, heavy use area pads, high tunnels, energy, cover crops, irrigation water management, poultry windbreaks and more.

Delaware NRCS is highlighting a target species, Northern Bobwhite Quail, in FY 2022. Our wildlife fund-pool is available for wildlife practices to manage for nesting cover, brood-rearing habitat, forage habitat and escape cover for bobwhites in priority areas throughout the state.
NRCS conservationists will work with producers to develop a conservation plan on their land to identify concerns and opportunities, help determine objectives and recommend solutions.

In fiscal year 2021, Delaware approved a combined 105 EQIP and AMA contracts covering nearly 14,000 acres for a total of $6 million.

To be eligible for program assistance, producers must have an eligible resource concern on their agricultural operation at the time of application. Historically underserved producers may request advance payments for EQIP practices, which provides the producer with a payment of at least 50 percent for practice implementation.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
NRCS accepts applications year-round; however, Delaware producers with applications in before October 15, 2021, will have a higher chance of application approval as funding is limited. Additional application cutoff dates are scheduled for the third Friday of each month until May 20, 2022.

For More Information:
To apply for financial assistance, contact your local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext. 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100, ext. 3. Additional information on NRCS programs and services is available on the Delaware NRCS website at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

About:
Virginia farmers and forest landowners can now sign up through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to install recommended conservation practices on their property. Eligible applicants can dip into the livestock, cropland and forestry fund pools or explore these additional special initiatives available to Virginia producers/landowners:

American Black Duck Initiative – Focused conservation practices to restore wintering habitat in the Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay watersheds;

Conservation Activity Plans – Development of site-specific plans to recommend conservation practices that will address an identified natural resource need;

Eastern hellbender – Targeted conservation practices to reduce sediment and nutrient inputs for improved habitat and water quality;

Golden-winged warbler – Young forest habitat restoration in Appalachian breeding territory;

High Tunnel System – Steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures to extend the growing season in an environmentally safe manner;

Longleaf Pine – Stand establishment and management in the Southeastern Virginia historical range;

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) – Targeted practices to clean up impaired streams and improve aquatic habitats in the War Branch and Mountain Run watersheds in Rockingham County and Gap Creek in Rockingham and Shenandoah counties;

Northern Bobwhite in Pine Savannahs – Management strategies to convert commercial loblolly and shortleaf pine plantings to highly valuable pine savanna habitats;

Northern Bobwhite in Working Grasslands – Native grass restoration to address habitat loss while maintaining or improving cattle production on the land;

On-Farm Energy – Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits to assess energy use and recommend ways to reduce it;

Organic – Practices to help certified organic growers, those working to achieve organic certification and specialty crop producers address resource concerns on their operations;

StrikeForce – Priority ranking for cropland, high tunnel and livestock practices to support program participation among underserved producers in rural communities.

“NRCS has also worked with multiple partners to designate 106 Source Water Protection Areas (SWPAs) that are concentrated in, but not limited to, Virginia locations traditionally associated with agriculture,” said Virginia State Conservationist Dr. Edwin Martinez Martinez. “EQIP participants who farm in these SWPAs can get higher payment rates for adopting about two dozen practices designed to reduce streambank erosion and nitrate runoff from agricultural operations.”

Applicants without farm records established through USDA’s Farm Service Agency will not be considered for ranking. The name, tax identification number and address provided must also match IRS income tax records. Those approved for financial assistance will receive payments based on an NRCS determination of incurred costs and income sacrificed for practice implementation.

Historically underserved producers* can opt for the advance payment after they are approved for an EQIP contract. Interested producers can get funds up front for at least 50 percent of the payment rate of each practice and get higher payments for the practices they install.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at specific times. Interested producers must submit applications on or before Nov. 19, 2021, to be considered for Fiscal Year 2022 EQIP funding. Each applicant should submit a signed and dated Conservation Program Application to the local NRCS service center by close of business on the published deadline for a given batching period.

For More Information:
Call or visit your local NRCS office to learn more about USDA program eligibility requirements and how EQIP and other Farm Bill programs can help you better protect and manage natural resources on your land. Visit farmers.gov for USDA service center locations. State-specific program information is available on the Virginia NRCS website at www.va.nrcs.usda.gov.

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