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 Ron Ohrel (rohrel@milk4u.org).

Conservation Stewardship Program

About:
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Delaware is encouraging farmers and forest landowners to sign up by April 30 for financial and technical assistance to expand existing conservation activities on their agricultural land. Assistance is now available through the updated Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), to help agricultural producers take conservation activities to the next level. 

“CSP continues to be an effective tool for helping producers achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Kasey Taylor, NRCS State Conservationist in Delaware. “Together, we can develop a plan to build on your existing conservation efforts while strengthening your operation.”

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat – all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. 

CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe. Participating farmers will further address priority resource concerns related to soil quality, water quality, air quality, and plant health. On-farm benefits include increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife population improvements, and better resilience to weather variables.

The 2018 Farm Bill made some improvements to the program that will benefit Delaware farmers, including:

  • Higher payment rates for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations. 
  • Provides specific support for organic and for transitioning to organic production activities. 

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
While applications are accepted throughout the year, the deadline is April 30, 2021 for funding in fiscal year 2021.  

For More Information:
Producers interested in CSP should contact their local USDA service center to complete an application. In Delaware’s 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. Or visit www.de.nrcs.usda.gov for more information.


Assistance Available to Address Resource Concerns on Agricultural Lands

About:
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is encouraging Delaware’s agricultural producers to apply for technical and financial assistance to improve the health and productivity of their agricultural land. Assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program. 

Assistance is available through EQIP and AMA 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, energy, cover crops, irrigation water management, poultry windbreaks and more. 

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.

Last fiscal year, Delaware approved a combined 150 EQIP and AMA contracts covering 19,600 acres for a total of $7.1 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 prior to implementation. 

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at application cut-off deadlines. Delaware producers with applications in before December 4, 2020 will have a higher chance of application approval as funding is limited. Additional application cutoff dates are scheduled for the first Friday of each month until May 7, 2021.

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 Web site at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov

None available at this time

Conservation Stewardship Program

About:
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New Jersey is now accepting applications through May 7, 2021 for the Conservation Stewardship Program’s (CSP) FY21 funding. The program not only helps producers maintain and improve their existing conservation efforts but assists them in adopting additional conservation activities to strengthen their operations all at the same time. With CSP, the higher the conservation performance – the higher the payment.
 
“Our farmers and landowners continuously deliver on their promise to practice good conservation throughout the state,” said New Jersey State Conservationist Julie Hawkins. “Through CSP, we get to reward them for that and help them strengthen their operation by building on those efforts. To me, that’s a win-win.”
 
For producers who are already taking steps to improve the condition of their land, CSP can help them find ways to meet their goals.
 
CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe. Participating farmers will further address priority resource concerns related to soil quality, water quality, air quality, and plant health. On-farm benefits include increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife population improvements, and better resilience to weather variables.
 
Through updates to the 2018 Farm Bill, New Jersey farmers will also benefit from:

  • Increased payment rates for certain conservation activities, including the adoption of cover crop rotations and resource conserving crop rotations.
  • Provided specific support for organic and transitioning to organic production activities.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
May 7, 2021

For More Information:
Interested producers should contact their local NRCS service center for more information.


Funding Available to Restore Habitat for Golden-Winged Warbler

About
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications from Northern New Jersey farmers and landowners interested in installing conservation practices to help restore the critical wildlife habitat of the golden-winged warbler (GWWA) through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program’s (EQIP) Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW). Applications received by April 30, 2021 will be considered for funding.
 
“Since 2012, NRCS NJ has been working hard to restore the sights and sounds of this beautiful songbird to our forests, and observing one using created young forest habitat last spring has only strengthened our resolve to see their full resurgence,” said NJ State Conservationist Julie Hawkins. “With over 450,000 acres of prime habitat in the state, we hope to have more farmers and landowners join us on our mission.”
 
The golden-winged warbler is a long-distance migrant that spends winter months in Central and South America, returning to North American forests each year in the spring to breed. The birds nest on the ground in forest openings where sunlight stimulates abundant plant growth, which provides concealment for the nests and insects to feed on. The species has undergone a significant population decline over the last 60 years due to the lack of young forest habitat, which has become uncommon in New Jersey and throughout the northeastern United States where forests have matured over the last century. Young forest habitat is critically important for many species of birds, hundreds of species of insects, numerous plants, and a wide array of wildlife.

WLFW will assist private landowners in creating and maintaining the habitat necessary to sustain breeding populations through forest management plans and by providing conservation payments to support habitat enhancement.

Location(s):
Land located in the Appalachian region that is in or near the Conservation Boundary delineated as GWWA habitat is eligible for WLFW. In New Jersey, this Conservation Boundary occurs in Warren, Sussex, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen Counties.
 
For an interactive map where landowners can verify their address lies within the focal area, click here.

Application Deadline:
Applications received by April 30, 2021 will be considered for funding.

For More Information:
A virtual workshop to highlight available technical and financial assistance for landowners within the Conservation Boundary will take place:
 
April 15, from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. 
 
To register and receive login information, RSVP at the following link, http://ow.ly/8iRN50EbjkR.

Genesee River Regional Conservation Partnership Program

About:
The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAGM) has partnered with New York Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to bring focused conservation program funding to the Genesee River Watershed region.  The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) uses partnerships to coordinate and target resources to address regional conservation goals. 
 
This special funding will be used to implement practices to reduce sediment and phosphorus runoff to the Genesee River.  The NYSDAGM and NRCS office will work together to provide assistance to producers in the project area in developing and implementing conservation practices.
 
Interested farmers and landowners that are located within the Genesee River Watershed should contact their local NRCS office for additional information and to obtain an application. Office staff will be able to help confirm eligibility.
 
Location(s):
Genesee River Watershed

Application Deadline:
May 4, 2021

For More Information:
As part of application process, all landowners will need to complete USDA eligibility requirements. To find information on EQIP Eligibility please visit: bit.ly/NRCS-NY-EQIP.
 
If you are interested in applying for an NRCS conservation program, please visit the NRCS web site for information at: bit.ly/NRCS-NY-APPLY.

Interested applicants located in the Genesee River Watershed may apply by contacting your local NRCS field office, which can be located using the web site: bit.ly/NRCSField.


Conservation Stewardship Program
 
About:
New York Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces April 23, 2021 as the application cutoff date for the General signup for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021.
 
Through the CSP program, NRCS helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices/enhancements that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation.
 
NRCS will work with applicants to assess resource concerns on the land included in their operation that they have effective control over to establish a benchmark stewardship condition.  They will then use that information to select practices and enhancements that work for their operation so that a higher level of conservation is achieved on at least one land use.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
April 23, 2021. Applications accepted after April 23, 2021 will be considered in the next signup. All applications are competitive and are ranked based on national, state and locally identified resource priorities and the overall benefit to the environment.

For More Information:
If you are interested in applying for the CSP program please visit our web site for information on applying at: http://bit.ly/NRCS-NY-CSP.
 
You may apply by visiting your local NRCS field office, which can be located using the web site: https://bit.ly/NRCSField.


Urban Agriculture Initiative (with extended priority area)

About:
The New York Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing a second sign-up for technical and financial assistance for agricultural producers in locations identified to be in urban areas.  This special program offers an exciting opportunity for urban farmers to compete for funding in a program developed to meet their needs.  

All applications are competitive and are ranked based on national, state and locally identified resource priorities and the overall benefit to the environment.

Location(s):
Producers whose land is located within the extended Urban Priority Area will be eligible to apply for consideration in 2021 under the second sign-up period.  The Extended Urban Priority Area map is located at https://bit.ly/NYUrban.

Application Deadline:
April 16, 2021

For More Information:
General information regarding NRCS New York Conservation Programs can be found at: http://www.ny.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/

If you are interested in applying for a conservation program please visit our web site for information on applying at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/ny/programs/?cid=nrcs144p2_027058


Buffer in a Bag Program

About:
The Buffer in a Bag program provides organizations and private landowners with free tree and shrub seedlings to help establish, or improve, a stream buffer on their property. Plantings alongside waterbodies create wildlife habitat and improve water quality. 

Anyone who owns or manages land in New York State with at least 50 feet along a stream or waterbody, is eligible to receive a free bag of seedlings. Organizations or individuals with permission to plant on a given property with stream or waterbody access may also participate. Applicants are limited to one bag per property, but previous participants are encouraged to apply each year to continue to grow their stream buffer.

Buffer in a Bag kits will be sent to selected applicants starting in late April to early May. Each bag includes 25 bare-root, native tree and shrub seedlings that are well-suited to streamside conditions. The seedlings are approximately 1 to 2 feet in height. The species selected for the 2021 packets include red oak, ninebark, winterberry, silky dogwood, and witch hazel.

Seedlings must be planted within a riparian area (along the bank of a river, creek, or stream or shore of a lake). This can include areas within a floodplain or within 300 feet of a stream. No road, structure, stormwater pond, drainage ditch, or other constructed feature should separate the planting area from the waterbody.

Recipients must submit photos of the area after the seedlings have been planted.

Recipients must agree to care for the seedlings for the first several years, until they are well established.

Participants will be asked to provide information on the seedlings' condition, as well as photos of the planting site, at the five-year mark.

Location(s):
Anyone who owns or manages land in New York State with at least 50 feet along a stream or waterbody, is eligible to receive a free bag of seedlings.

Application Deadline:
April 12, 2021

For More Information:
https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/115903.html


Hudson Estuary Trees for Tribs

About:
The Hudson Estuary Trees for Tribs Program helps to protect and restore streamside buffers. Healthy buffers, comprised of native trees, shrubs, and grasses, help to:

  • Reduce water pollution
  • Reduce erosion and flooding damage
  • Provide habitat for fish and other wildlife

Trees for Tribs offers free native trees and shrubs for qualifying planting projects in the Hudson River estuary watershed. Program staff may also be able to assist with plant selection, designing a planting plan, and other technical assistance to help your project succeed.

Location(s):
Hudson River estuary watershed

Application Deadline:
The application deadline is August 1 for planting in the fall.

For More Information:
https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/43668.html


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.


Small Business Advantage Grant Program

About:
The Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for grants to help farmers reduce nutrient pollution and small business owners and farmers increase energy efficiency under the Small Business Advantage Grant Program.
         
“This grant program was created with small businesses and farmers in mind. There are tremendous monetary savings available to Pennsylvania’s small business owners by installing energy-efficient equipment, such as boilers, LED lighting, and Energy Star certified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. 

“Pennsylvania farmers can also benefit by using these funds to undertake projects which will divert sediment and nutrient runoff from our waterways.”

Pennsylvania farmers and other small business owners with 100 or fewer full-time employees are eligible for the grants. 

Projects must save the business a minimum of $500 and 25 percent annually in energy consumption or pollution related expenses. 

Natural resource protection projects are exempt from the minimums; however, the projects must be able to quantify sediment and nutrient reductions into nearby waterways.

Businesses can apply for 50 percent matching funds for equipment or materials, up to $7,000, when adopting energy-efficient or pollution prevention equipment or processes. 

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
Applications are considered on a first come, first served basis, and will be accepted until fiscal year 2020-21 funds are exhausted, or April 12, 2021, whichever occurs first.

For More Information:    
Visit DEP’s Small Business Advantage Grant Program webpage. Questions should be directed to the Small Business Ombudsman’s Office, call 717-772-5160 or send email to: epadvantagegtrant@pa.gov


Conservation Stewardship Program

About:
The Natural Resources Conservation Service-PA reminded landowners the next deadline for NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program applications to be considered for funding this year is May 7, 2021. 

Organic operations should take a look at CSP as PA NRCS received funds designated for an Organic category of this program. 

Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps farmers, ranchers and forest landowners earn payments for expanding conservation activities while maintaining agricultural production on their land. 

CSP also encourages adoption of new technologies and management techniques. Benefits may include increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes. 

The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill authorized NRCS to accept new CSP enrollments until 2023 and included the following updates to the program.

  • NRCS now enrolls eligible, high-ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres.
  • Higher payment rates are now available under the 2018 Farm Bill for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations. 
  • Provides specific support for organic and for transitioning to organic production activities and a special grassland conservation initiative for certain producers who have maintained cropland base acres.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
May 7, 2021 

While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by the deadline to ensure their applications are considered for 2021 funding.

For More Information:
For additional information about CSP, contact your local service center. USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. 

For more information on funding and technical assistance, visit the Natural Resources Conservation Service-PA webpage.


2021 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award

About:
The PA Farm Bureau, The Heinz Foundation and the Sand County Foundation are now accepting nominations for the 2021 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award.  

The $10,000 prize and the Aware are given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold. The award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land. 

Previous winners in Pennsylvania include -- Ben and Sharon Peckman, Franklin County-2020; Dean and Rebecca Jackson, Bradford County-2019; and the DiFebo Family, Northampton County.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
August 5, 2021

For More Information:
For all the details and how to apply, visit the 2021 Pennsylvania Leopold Conservation Award webpage. 


Act 13: Watershed Restoration and Protection Program (WRPP)

About:
Act 13 of 2012 establishes the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for watershed restoration and protection projects. The overall goal of the Watershed Restoration and Protection Program (WRPP) 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. This may be accomplished by the implementation of watershed based Best Management Practices (BMPs) for agriculture, stormwater, stream bank and channel restoration, as well as for BMP repair, upgrade or operation and maintenance of existing practices.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
May 31, 2021

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

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

Questions: 717-787-6245


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

Conservation Stewardship Program

About:
As business owners, farmers often turn to value-added services like on-farm stores or agritourism to market directly to customers and make their operations more profitable. Conservation practices can pack much the same punch on the productivity front.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers a “pay for performance” program that rewards established stewards of the land for taking their management activities to a higher level. Agricultural producers and forest landowners can earn payments through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for actively maintaining and expanding existing conservation activities while continuing agricultural production on their land.

CSP participants are actually building their businesses while implementing practices like cover crops, buffer strips, pollinator habitat and enhanced nutrient management to enhance the sustainability of the entire operation. They can get annual Existing Activity Payments (EAPs) for upkeep on conservation activities to address resource concerns met at the time of application and benefit from these additional options now available due to changes in the 2018 Farm Bill:

  • New supplemental payment for advanced grazing management
  • Higher payment rates for certain conservation measures, including cover crops and resource-conserving crop rotations
  • Specific support for organic operations and those transitioning to organic production.

CSP is for working lands (crop, pasture, nonindustrial forest and tribal ag land) and also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Location(s):
Statewide

Application Deadline:
While NRCS conducts continuous sign-ups for the program, interested producers must submit their applications by April 30, 2021, to be considered for FY21 funding. 

For More Information:
Producers interested in CSP should contact their local USDA service center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.