NRCS-PA Funding Available for Priority Watersheds in 14 PA Bay Counties
The Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership NRCS RCPP project sponsored by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has funding available for Land Management activities in multiple priority watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Pennsylvania agricultural producers and landowners are encouraged to apply for technical and financial assistance to improve and enhance natural resources on their farm through the development and implementation of comprehensive nutrient management plans on livestock operations to reduce nutrient and sediment loss to surface waters.
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.
“Our high-quality, comprehensive conservation plans can provide farmers with step-by-step recommendations they can use to improve their water quality, soil health and more — all while reducing input costs,” said Denise Coleman, Pennsylvania NRCS State Conservationist.
Applications are being taken in priority watersheds in the following counties in Pennsylvania: Bedford, Berks, Blair, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, Northumberland, Snyder, Union and York.
Click Here for more information on the priority watersheds covered by this funding.
NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at application cut-off deadlines.
Since this was a new project in 2021, producers with applications submitted by January 31, 2022, will meet the first cut-off and have a higher chance of receiving funding.
Applications received after that date will be accepted and considered for funding in additional ranking review cycles if funds remain.
The next cut-off will be February 28, 2022.
For More Information:
Interested producers should visit their local USDA NRCS service center for sign-up information.
For more information on technical and financial assistance available to landowners, visit the NRCS-PA webpage.
Agriculture Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
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).
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
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.
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.
Resource Enhancement and Protection Farm Conservation Tax Credits
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.
January 31, 2022
For More Information:
For all the details, visit the Department of Agriculture’s Resource Enhancement and Protection webpage.
NRCS-PA Announces Conservation Funding Opportunities for FY2022
On November 23, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced fiscal year 2022 assistance opportunities for agricultural producers and private landowners for key programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program, and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
Through conservation programs, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to help producers and landowners make conservation improvements on their land that benefit natural resources, build resiliency and contribute to the nation’s broader effort to combat the impacts of climate change.
EQIP provides cost share assistance for producers to use 170-plus conservation practices to address a wide variety of resource concerns. Within EQIP, Conservation Incentive Contracts allow producers to further target priority resource concerns. ACEP helps producers enroll wetlands, grasslands and farmlands into easements for long-term protection.
Special provisions are also available for historically underserved producers. For EQIP, historically underserved producers are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting services up front. In addition, historically underserved producers can receive higher EQIP payment rates (up to 90% of average cost). NRCS sets aside EQIP and ACEP funds for historically underserved producers.
NRCS conservation programs play a critical role in USDA’s commitment to partnering with farmers, ranchers, forest landowners and local communities to deliver climate solutions that strengthen agricultural operations and rural America.
States may prioritize a variety of voluntary conservation practices through these NRCS programs, including those that support climate-smart agriculture and forestry (CSAF).
In fiscal year 2022, EQIP and CSP will provide targeted funding for CSAF practices, and Conservation Incentive Contracts – a new EQIP program – will be available nationwide with an emphasis on CSAF practices.
To participate in USDA conservation programs, applicants should be farmers or farm or forest landowners and must meet eligibility criteria by the application date.
While USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) accepts applications for these programs year-round, producers and landowners should apply for AMA and EQIP by January 1, 2022 and ACEP by January 4, 2022 to be considered for this year’s funding.
NRCS accepts applications for its conservation programs year-round. State Technical Committees, composed of representatives from conservation and agricultural-related organizations, work with NRCS to set state-specific, ranking dates to evaluate applications for funding.
These dates account for producer needs, staff workload and ensure potential participants have ample opportunity to apply. Producers should apply by their state’s ranking dates to be considered for funding in the current cycle. Funding is provided through a competitive process.
Ranking dates for all programs and states are available online. Applications received after ranking dates will be automatically deferred to the next funding period.
For More Information:
To take advantage of NRCS technical assistance and expertise or federally funded conservation on your farm or land, please contact your local USDA NRCS Field Office, or visit the NRCS website for program information.
For more information on financial and technical assistance available in Pennsylvania, visit the NRCS in Pennsylvania webpage.