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.

USDA Offers CLEAR30 Option for Producers to Enroll Land with Expiring Conservation Contracts

About:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing the signup period for its Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers initiative (CLEAR30)—a nationwide opportunity for certain landowners and agricultural producers currently implementing water quality practices through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to enroll in 30-year contracts, extending the lifespan and strengthening the benefits of important water quality practices on their land.

Cropland and certain pastureland currently enrolled in Continuous CRP or the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and dedicated to an eligible water quality practice such as riparian buffers, contour strips, grass waterways or wetland restoration may be eligible if their contracts are expiring by September 30, 2022.

CLEAR30 contracts will be effective beginning Oct. 1, 2022. These long-term contracts ensure that conservation practices remain in place for 30 years, which improves water quality through reducing sediment and nutrient runoff and helping prevent algal blooms. Conservation in riparian areas also provides important carbon sequestration benefits. Traditional CRP contracts run from 10 to 15 years.

Annual rental payments for landowners who enroll in CLEAR30 will be equal to the current Continuous CRP annual payment rate plus a 20 percent water quality incentive payment and an annual rental rate adjustment of 27.5 percent.

Location(s): Statewide

Application Deadline: August 5, 2022

For More Information:
To sign up for CLEAR30, landowners and producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. Contact information can be found at farmers.gov/service-locator. Additionally, fact sheets and other resources are available at fsa.usda.gov/crp.

CLEAR30 is an option available through CRP, which is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. CRP was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and stabilize commodity prices by taking environmentally sensitive lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing numerous conservation and economic benefits. In addition to CLEAR30, signups are also open for Continuous CRP and Grassland CRP.

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.

USDA Offers CLEAR30 Option for Producers to Enroll Land with Expiring Conservation Contracts

About:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing the signup period for its Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers initiative (CLEAR30)—a nationwide opportunity for certain landowners and agricultural producers currently implementing water quality practices through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to enroll in 30-year contracts, extending the lifespan and strengthening the benefits of important water quality practices on their land.

Cropland and certain pastureland currently enrolled in Continuous CRP or the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and dedicated to an eligible water quality practice such as riparian buffers, contour strips, grass waterways or wetland restoration may be eligible if their contracts are expiring by September 30, 2022.

CLEAR30 contracts will be effective beginning Oct. 1, 2022. These long-term contracts ensure that conservation practices remain in place for 30 years, which improves water quality through reducing sediment and nutrient runoff and helping prevent algal blooms. Conservation in riparian areas also provides important carbon sequestration benefits. Traditional CRP contracts run from 10 to 15 years.

Annual rental payments for landowners who enroll in CLEAR30 will be equal to the current Continuous CRP annual payment rate plus a 20 percent water quality incentive payment and an annual rental rate adjustment of 27.5 percent.

Location(s): Statewide

Application Deadline: August 5, 2022

For More Information:
To sign up for CLEAR30, landowners and producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. Contact information can be found at farmers.gov/service-locator. Additionally, fact sheets and other resources are available at fsa.usda.gov/crp.

CLEAR30 is an option available through CRP, which is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. CRP was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and stabilize commodity prices by taking environmentally sensitive lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing numerous conservation and economic benefits. In addition to CLEAR30, signups are also open for Continuous CRP and Grassland CRP.

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.

$900,000 Available for Precision Nutrient Management and Soil Health Conservation Practices

About:
Funding available to EQIP-eligible farmers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and in Harford County. With this RCPP funding the maximum cap for precision nutrient management is $40,000/year, rather than $10,000/year through EQIP. This funding is available through USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project Sustainable Chesapeake secured in partnership with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Delaware-Maryland 4R Alliance.

Location(s):
Eastern Shore and Harford County

Application Deadline:
Unknown

For More Information:
Interested individuals should call or visit their local NRCS office to confirm eligibility and complete an application.

USDA Offers CLEAR30 Option for Producers to Enroll Land with Expiring Conservation Contracts

About:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing the signup period for its Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers initiative (CLEAR30)—a nationwide opportunity for certain landowners and agricultural producers currently implementing water quality practices through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to enroll in 30-year contracts, extending the lifespan and strengthening the benefits of important water quality practices on their land.

Cropland and certain pastureland currently enrolled in Continuous CRP or the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and dedicated to an eligible water quality practice such as riparian buffers, contour strips, grass waterways or wetland restoration may be eligible if their contracts are expiring by September 30, 2022.

CLEAR30 contracts will be effective beginning Oct. 1, 2022. These long-term contracts ensure that conservation practices remain in place for 30 years, which improves water quality through reducing sediment and nutrient runoff and helping prevent algal blooms. Conservation in riparian areas also provides important carbon sequestration benefits. Traditional CRP contracts run from 10 to 15 years.

Annual rental payments for landowners who enroll in CLEAR30 will be equal to the current Continuous CRP annual payment rate plus a 20 percent water quality incentive payment and an annual rental rate adjustment of 27.5 percent.

Location(s): Statewide

Application Deadline: August 5, 2022

For More Information:
To sign up for CLEAR30, landowners and producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. Contact information can be found at farmers.gov/service-locator. Additionally, fact sheets and other resources are available at fsa.usda.gov/crp.

CLEAR30 is an option available through CRP, which is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. CRP was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and stabilize commodity prices by taking environmentally sensitive lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing numerous conservation and economic benefits. In addition to CLEAR30, signups are also open for Continuous CRP and Grassland CRP.

USDA Offers CLEAR30 Option for Producers to Enroll Land with Expiring Conservation Contracts

About:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing the signup period for its Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers initiative (CLEAR30)—a nationwide opportunity for certain landowners and agricultural producers currently implementing water quality practices through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to enroll in 30-year contracts, extending the lifespan and strengthening the benefits of important water quality practices on their land.

Cropland and certain pastureland currently enrolled in Continuous CRP or the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and dedicated to an eligible water quality practice such as riparian buffers, contour strips, grass waterways or wetland restoration may be eligible if their contracts are expiring by September 30, 2022.

CLEAR30 contracts will be effective beginning Oct. 1, 2022. These long-term contracts ensure that conservation practices remain in place for 30 years, which improves water quality through reducing sediment and nutrient runoff and helping prevent algal blooms. Conservation in riparian areas also provides important carbon sequestration benefits. Traditional CRP contracts run from 10 to 15 years.

Annual rental payments for landowners who enroll in CLEAR30 will be equal to the current Continuous CRP annual payment rate plus a 20 percent water quality incentive payment and an annual rental rate adjustment of 27.5 percent.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
August 5, 2022

For More Information:
To sign up for CLEAR30, landowners and producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. Contact information can be found at farmers.gov/service-locator. Additionally, fact sheets and other resources are available at fsa.usda.gov/crp.

CLEAR30 is an option available through CRP, which is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. CRP was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and stabilize commodity prices by taking environmentally sensitive lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing numerous conservation and economic benefits. In addition to CLEAR30, signups are also open for Continuous CRP and Grassland CRP.

Schoharie County Mini-Grants

About:
Schoharie County Soil & Water Conservation District administers a mini-grant program to eligible farms showing a need to improve water quality. These grants are used as seed money to start smaller projects such as livestock fencing, concrete pads, and access roads.

Location(s):
Schoharie County

Application Deadline:
April 2022

For More Information:
Lisa Kuehnle
518-823-4535

2022 AEM-Leopold Conservation Award

About:
Applications are open for New York State’s 2022 Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Leopold Conservation Award. Presented by the Sand County Foundation, the award honors a farm and its nominating Soil and Water Conservation District for extraordinary achievement in environmental stewardship. The $10,000 award is provided by the Sand County Foundation, in partnership with the Department, American Farmland Trust (AFT), and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Applications for the New York AEM-Leopold Conservation Award are now being accepted, with county Soil and Water Conservation Districts applying on behalf of farms. Eligible candidates successfully incorporate AEM Best Management Practices into the management of the farm, which also assist the landowner in meeting business and environmental goals. Applicants should demonstrate conservation leadership and outreach in the agricultural sector and be an inspiration to other landowners.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Applications for the New York AEM Leopold Conservation Award must be received by the Department by May 1, 2022. Nominations will be reviewed by an independent panel of conservation leaders.

For More Information:
Interested candidates should contact their local county Soil and Water Conservation District to learn more. Find your county office at https://agriculture.ny.gov/soil-and-water/soil-water-conservation-district-offices.

Questions? Please contact: Lance Irving at lirving@sandcountyfoundation.org. Additional information at http://www.sandcountyfoundation.org/uploads/2022-CFN-New-York.pdf.

Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution Abatement and Control Program

About:
$13 million is available to support agricultural water quality conservation projects across the State through Round 28 of the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program.

The Agricultural Nonpoint program awards projects that focus on either environmental planning or the implementation of best management practice systems to protect New York’s watersheds. Projects include conservation measures, such as nutrient management through manure storage, vegetative buffers along streams, and conservation cover crops.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
May 2, 2022

For More Information:
The State’s County Soil and Water Conservation Districts can apply on behalf of farmers for this competitive grant program, which is also funded through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund. Find your county office at https://agriculture.ny.gov/soil-and-water/soil-water-conservation-district-offices.

The application and additional information are available on the Department’s website at https://agriculture.ny.gov/soil-and-water/rfp-0257-agricultural-non-point-source-pollution-abatement-and-control-program-round.

Montgomery County BMP Funding

About:
The Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District is seeking farmers interested in implementing best management practices on their farms. The farm must have a conservation plan addressing resource concerns written through the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program. These farms will be prioritized based on local watershed needs through a planning process to select appropriate agricultural best management practice systems for the control and treatment of pollutants from agricultural non-point sources.

Examples of practice systems that will be considered for funding include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Prescribed Rotational Grazing System: water system infrastructure, fencing, trails and walkways
  • Riparian Buffer System: buffers, tree planting, stream crossing
  • Soil Health System: cover crop, no-till, pasture and hay land planting
  • Erosion Control System: diversion, waterways, trails and walkways, roof runoff structure (gutters, drip trench)
  • Livestock Heavy Use Area Protection Systems: barnyard, vegetated treatment areas, HUAP, waste transfer, storage

Funding is available locally through assistance provided by the NY Department of Agriculture and Markets. These practices improve the water quality of the County, and beyond. The farm must be a participant in the AEM program with the ability to cost share the practice within the 2-year contract timeline.

Montgomery County SWCD leads in the implementation of the AEM program. AEM is voluntary, confidential, locally-led, and comprehensive approach that further advances environmental management on farms across all sizes and commodities. This program delivers technical support and financial incentives needed to help farmers to implement conservation practices critical to the protection of water quality and other natural resources. AEM helps to ensure that New York’s farms remain viable and continue to meet their business objectives in an ever-changing marketplace.

Location(s):
Montgomery County, NY

Application Deadline:
Unknown

For More Information:
Farms seeking more information should call the SWCD at 518-853-4015 or email joseph.slezak@ny.nacdnet.net.

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:
June 30, 2022

For More Information:
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.

Dairy Grazing Project

About:
Pasa Sustainable Agriculture and partners have launched a new project designed to improve dairy herds, soil health and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Whether you’re an experienced grazier seeking a better price for your milk, a conventional farmer only beginning to think about how grazing might support your operation, or fall anywhere in between, Dairy Grazing Project can help.

Services are provided by a team of farmers and professionals at Center for Dairy Excellence, Ephrata National Bank, Mad Agriculture, Origin Milk Company, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, Rodale Institute, and TeamAg. This project is supported by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Location(s):
If you are a Pennsylvania dairy farmer in Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, or York Counties, you may be eligible to receive a variety of free or reduced-cost mentorship, technical assistance, business, and financial services.

If you are a dairy farmer located in other areas near the Chesapeake Bay Watershed you may also be eligible for these services.

Application Deadline:
Unknown

For More Information:
https://dairygrazingproject.org/

USDA Offers CLEAR30 Option for Producers to Enroll Land with Expiring Conservation Contracts

About:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing the signup period for its Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers initiative (CLEAR30)—a nationwide opportunity for certain landowners and agricultural producers currently implementing water quality practices through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to enroll in 30-year contracts, extending the lifespan and strengthening the benefits of important water quality practices on their land.

Cropland and certain pastureland currently enrolled in Continuous CRP or the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and dedicated to an eligible water quality practice such as riparian buffers, contour strips, grass waterways or wetland restoration may be eligible if their contracts are expiring by September 30, 2022.

CLEAR30 contracts will be effective beginning Oct. 1, 2022. These long-term contracts ensure that conservation practices remain in place for 30 years, which improves water quality through reducing sediment and nutrient runoff and helping prevent algal blooms. Conservation in riparian areas also provides important carbon sequestration benefits. Traditional CRP contracts run from 10 to 15 years.

Annual rental payments for landowners who enroll in CLEAR30 will be equal to the current Continuous CRP annual payment rate plus a 20 percent water quality incentive payment and an annual rental rate adjustment of 27.5 percent.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
August 5, 2022

For More Information:
To sign up for CLEAR30, landowners and producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. Contact information can be found at farmers.gov/service-locator. Additionally, fact sheets and other resources are available at fsa.usda.gov/crp.

CLEAR30 is an option available through CRP, which is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. CRP was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and stabilize commodity prices by taking environmentally sensitive lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing numerous conservation and economic benefits. In addition to CLEAR30, signups are also open for Continuous CRP and Grassland CRP.

Agriculture Linked (Agri-Link) Investment Program

About:
The program offers low-interest loans to Pennsylvania agriculture operations implementing best management practices (BMPs). Currently, $500,000 is available to support BMPs this fiscal year.

To be eligible, borrowers must have BMP projects included in an approved nutrient management, manure management, agricultural erosion and sedimentation, or other SCC-approved federal or state conservation plans.

The program was re-established by Act 37 of 2019 and allows the State Conservation Commission at the Department of Agriculture to subsidize qualifying loans. The subsidy is funded by an annual appropriation from the General Assembly for payments to offset interest rates.

Treasury will pay the lending institution the full value of the qualifying Agri-Link loan. The borrower’s interest rate is reduced by a subsidy provided by the SCC. Borrowers pay back principal and interest to their lenders, and Treasury is paid principal and interest every six months over the life of the loan by the depository institution.

Agri-Link is open to farmers in all 67 counties and offers low-interest loans up to $250,000 with terms no longer than 12 years. Those interested in applying for the program can do so through their local lending institution or a Farm Credit Service institution. County conservation districts and the SCC review applicants’ projects to determine whether they meet Act 37 criteria.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Applications can be filed at any time.

For More Information:
More information is available on the Department of Agriculture’s Agri-Link webpage.

Watershed Protection Grants

About:
The Commonwealth Financing Authority will be accepting applications for grants funded by Act 13 drilling impact fees for watershed restoration.

The overall goal of the Watershed Restoration and Protection Program is to restore, and maintain restored stream reaches impaired by the uncontrolled discharge of nonpoint source polluted runoff, and ultimately to remove these streams from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Impaired Waters list.

There is a maximum of $300,000 for any project. A 15% match of the total project cost is required.

Eligible projects include:

  • Watershed restoration/protection projects implementing runoff control or runoff reduction BMPs on agricultural operations negatively impacting local or regional stream quality. A description of BMPs commonly used for agricultural operations is provided in the PA Soil and Water Conservation Technical Guide administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
  • Watershed restoration/protection projects implementing runoff control or runoff reduction BMPs addressing urban or residential areas negatively impacting local or regional stream quality. A listing of potential BMPs is contained in the Pennsylvania Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual, administered by PA DEP.
  • Watershed projects that refurbish, restore, or create stream bank or stream channel stabilization using bio-engineering techniques.
  • Repair and maintenance of existing watershed protection BMPs addressing agricultural, urban/residential, and degraded stream areas.
  • Monitoring of water quality to track, or continue to track, NPS load reductions resulting from watershed protection BMP implementation projects.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
May 31, 2022

For More Information:
Program Overview: https://dced.pa.gov/programs/watershed-restoration-protection-program-wrpp/.

Program Guidelines: https://dced.pa.gov/download/watershed-restoration-protection-program-wrpp-guidelines/?wpdmdl=81395

Program inquiries should be directed to:

PA Department of Community and Economic Development
Office of Business Finance and Workforce Development – CFA Programs
Division Watershed Restoration and Protection Program
Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North Street, 4th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225
Telephone: (717) 787-6245
Fax (717) 772-3581
E-mail: ra-dcedsitedvpt@pa.gov

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.

USDA Offers CLEAR30 Option for Producers to Enroll Land with Expiring Conservation Contracts

About:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing the signup period for its Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers initiative (CLEAR30)—a nationwide opportunity for certain landowners and agricultural producers currently implementing water quality practices through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to enroll in 30-year contracts, extending the lifespan and strengthening the benefits of important water quality practices on their land.

Cropland and certain pastureland currently enrolled in Continuous CRP or the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and dedicated to an eligible water quality practice such as riparian buffers, contour strips, grass waterways or wetland restoration may be eligible if their contracts are expiring by September 30, 2022.

CLEAR30 contracts will be effective beginning Oct. 1, 2022. These long-term contracts ensure that conservation practices remain in place for 30 years, which improves water quality through reducing sediment and nutrient runoff and helping prevent algal blooms. Conservation in riparian areas also provides important carbon sequestration benefits. Traditional CRP contracts run from 10 to 15 years.

Annual rental payments for landowners who enroll in CLEAR30 will be equal to the current Continuous CRP annual payment rate plus a 20 percent water quality incentive payment and an annual rental rate adjustment of 27.5 percent.

Location(s): Statewide

Application Deadline: August 5, 2022

For More Information:
To sign up for CLEAR30, landowners and producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. Contact information can be found at farmers.gov/service-locator. Additionally, fact sheets and other resources are available at fsa.usda.gov/crp.

CLEAR30 is an option available through CRP, which is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. CRP was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and stabilize commodity prices by taking environmentally sensitive lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing numerous conservation and economic benefits. In addition to CLEAR30, signups are also open for Continuous CRP and Grassland CRP.

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