HARRISBURG, PA — Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding is inviting Lancaster and York County farmers to apply for up to $250,000 in Conservation Excellence Grants. The $2.5 million program, created by 2019 PA Farm Bill, funds on-farm measures that reduce erosion and run-off, improving soil and water quality to ultimately sustain agriculture and improve the region’s quality of life.
“Pennsylvania farmers have demonstrated their commitment to sustaining our lives, even in the midst of unprecedented challenges,” said Sec. Redding. “This funding will support their efforts to conserve precious soil and water resources and their ability to support our lives, our communities and our economy in the future.”
Funds will be administered by the Lancaster and York County Conservation Districts. Lancaster and York County farms have been prioritized for their location along the Susquehanna River that empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Measures funded in these two counties have the greatest potential impact to improve water quality in a region that is home to almost four million Pennsylvanians. Funds may be made available to farms in other counties if available.
Some examples of eligible measures — called Best Management Practices, or BMPs — include fencing to keep livestock out of streams, streambank restoration, cover crops, planted streamside buffers to filter nutrients out of streams, manure storage, and comprehensive plans to manage nutrients, control erosion and conserve soil and water. Funding will support technical assistance and the installation of these and other high-impact BMPs.
The PA Farm Bill, a historic $23 million investment in growing and sustaining the commonwealth’s agriculture industry, was modeled after the governor’s six-point plan to cultivate future generations of Pennsylvania agriculture. The bill supports business development and succession planning, creates accommodations for a growing animal agriculture sector, removes regulatory burdens, strengthens the ag workforce, protects infrastructure, and works toward making Pennsylvania the nation’s leading organic state.
BMPs funded by Conservation Excellence Grants will help Pennsylvania meet its federally mandated goals to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment into the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.
Applications will be accepted beginning July 1, and evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis, according to their potential to meet program criteria. Grant funding may be combined with other public grants, tax credits such as the Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP), and private funding.
Find applications, instructions and more information about Conservation Excellence Grants on the department’s website. Applications are also available from the Lancaster County Conservation District Office and York Conservation District Office. Completed applications should be returned to the district office for the county in which the applicant’s farm is located. Complete grant program guidelines can also be found in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Farmers with questions about applying may contact Program Administrator Eric Cromer at 223-666-2556 or [email protected]
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