Friday, March 31, 2023

Agriculture Announces Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program Grants Now Becoming Available Thru County Conservation Districts

On March 31, the Department of Agriculture announced county conservation districts are now accepting applications for the new $154 million
Agricultural Conservation Assistance Grant Program to help farmers build healthier soil, prevent nutrient and sediment runoff and improve farm viability.

The ACAP Program and new Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Fund were created with $220 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act in the FY 2022-23 state budget [Read more here], and funds conservation programs including ACAP, designed to share the costs to farmers for farm management practices that reduce sediment in waterways, keeping the nutrients out of waterways, and on the farm to build soil health.

ACAP funding is provided to county conservation districts who in-turn accept applications from farmers for grants.  Contact your local conservation district to apply for a grant.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding visited Matthew and Samantha Stahlnecker’s Lycoming County farm to announce the first funding rolling out under the new program.  

Also attending was Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee, who sponsored the original legislation creating the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Grant Program.

Lycoming County is receiving $1.9 million in ACAP funds from the new PA Clean Streams Fund based on a formula that considers number of farms, number of livestock operations, and number of impaired stream miles. The Stahlneckers plan to apply for the program to boost conservation measures on their farm.

“As young farmers, the Stahlneckers have demonstrated their care for the water and land,” Secretary Redding said. “It’s our goal to honor their stewardship, and the stewardship of other PA farmers by investing ACAP funds in the future of their farm and the future of Pennsylvania."

Funding will help provide site design and engineering support for measures like concrete barnyards, heavy use area protection, manure storage, and expertise to institute agronomic or ecological practices like cover crops, planted streamside buffers, stream-bank fencing, and grazing systems – the best management practices, or “BMPs” proven to conserve water and soil resources and farm productivity.

ACAP funding, administered by the State Conservation Commission is part of a coordinated package of state conservation initiatives, grants, loans, and tax incentives that leverage Pennsylvania’s long-standing partnership with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and Conservation Districts.

Funds must be committed by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026. In order to meet this aggressive timeline, the State Conservation Commission is partnering with Penn State University and USDA’s NRCS to create a technical assistance center that will provide necessary engineering and design support.

“The partnership between the SCC and Conservation Districts has existed for decades,” NRCS State Conservationist Denise Coleman said. “It has resulted in a significant amount of voluntary conservation practices applied on the Commonwealth’s landscapes. ACAP marks a new era in state-level conservation funding. NRCS looks forward to continuing its work in areas like technical training, quality assurance, and financial assistance program delivery.”

Visit Agriculture’s Agricultural Conservation Assistance Grants webpage for more information.  Contact your county conservation district to apply for funding.


-- Williamsport Sun: Sen. Yaw Touts New $154 Million Agriculture Conservation Program In Lycoming County

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Related Articles:

-- DEP Starts Accepting Growing Greener Plus, Section 319, SMCRA Mine Reclamation, Pipeline Penalty Projects, Stormwater Planning, Watershed Restoration Grant Applications April 21 [PaEN] 

-- Agriculture Announces Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program Grants Now Becoming Available Thru County Conservation Districts  [PaEN]

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-- Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition Newsletter Highlights Beavers At Jennings Environmental Center, Aultmans Watershed Trash Cleanup April 29  [PaEN] 

-- Ohio River Basin Alliance, ORSANCO Host Congressional Day On The Hill June 13 To Educate Members Of Congress On Needs Of Ohio River Basin   [PaEN]

-- Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy Lenape Challenge April 29, Premier Adventure Race Experience  [PaEN] 

-- Chesapeake Bay Journal - Ad Crable: Log Rafts And Raftsmen Once Ruled The Susquehanna River

[Posted: March 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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