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.

NRCS-PA Funding Available for Priority Watersheds in 14 PA Bay Counties

About:
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.

Location(s):
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.

Application Deadline:
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

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.


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:
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

About:
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.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
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.

Maryland’s Conservation Buffer Initiative

About:
Back by popular demand, Maryland’s Conservation Buffer Initiative provides farmers with attractive incentive payments to plant streamside buffers on farms to protect water quality.

New this year, farmers can receive up to $4,500 an acre to install riparian forest buffers with pasture fencing. Financial assistance is also available to install deer fencing next to grass buffers. Other features include a buffer option for field ditches, flexible site management, and shorter contract terms.

Three types of buffers are eligible for funding and free technical assistance from local soil conservation districts: riparian forest buffers, grass buffers planted next to waterways or field ditches, and watercourse access control areas adjacent to pastures.

  • Payment rates range from $500/acre for an existing grass buffer to a maximum of $4,500/acre to install a riparian forest buffer with pasture fencing.
  • Financial assistance is offered to install deer fencing next to grass buffers.
  • Mowing and hay harvesting are allowed; nutrient applications are not.
  • Famers receive a one-time payment for enrolled land; contracts are for 5 or 10 years.
  • All work must be completed by June 30, 2023.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Applications accepted January 10-February 18, 2022.

For More Information:
You’ll find everything you need on our website including payment options, application forms, and eligibility criteria.

Contact your local soil conservation district for free assistance.


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.

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.


Over $540k Available for Cover Crops in Sussex County

About:
Over $540,000 is available to plant cover crops in the Delaware Bay and Inland Bays watersheds of Sussex County, over the next two years.

“Protecting the Delaware Bay and Inland Bays with Cover Crops” is a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project focused on improving water quality through soil health. The Sussex Conservation District (SCD) leads the project with local partners the Delaware Department of Agriculture – Nutrient Management Program, Perdue Farms Inc., Amick Farms, Allen Harim Foods LLC. and Mountaire Farms.

“We are proud to work with numerous partners and provide funding for farmers to plant cover crops,” said Debbie Absher, director of agricultural programs at SCD. “Cover crops improve soil health and water quality because of their ability to scavenge excess nutrients in the soil and increase organic matter.”

“This RCPP project is a win-win for farmers, it brings valuable resources into Sussex County to enhance the producer’s operation and improve overall water quality,” said David Baird, district coordinator at SCD.

Location(s):
Sussex County

Application Deadline:
RCPP applications are accepted year-round; however, the first application deadline is Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. All applications received by the deadline will be ranked and considered for funding in Spring 2022.

For More Information:
For more information on eligibility or to complete an application, call the Sussex County USDA Service Center at 302-856-3990, ext. 3.

RCPP promotes coordination between the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and its partners to address resource concerns on privately-owned agricultural and forest lands. To learn more about Delaware NRCS, visit www.de.nrcs.usda.gov. To learn more about SCD, visit www.sussexconservation.org.

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