State Agriculture Department announces efforts to increase environmental practices on farms across the state

Two funding programs totaling $1.3 million will support protection of New York’s natural resources and help farmers maintain standards for the NYS Grown and Certified Program

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets recently announced the availability of $1.3 million for two programs to assist New York farmers increase environmental protections on farms across the state. Funds will support the conservation of water resources, improvements to nutrient management strategies and help New York farmers in producing agricultural products at high environmental standards under the New York State Grown and Certified program.

“New York state continues to be a leader in environmental protections, including on its farms,” Commissioner Richard Ball said. “I am proud of the support we have been able to provide to our Soil and Water Conservation Districts and to our farmers, which enables them to implement projects that prioritize our natural resources and ensure great care is taken for the land and waterways.”

High-efficiency agricultural irrigation water management systems

The Department is currently accepting applications for the $700,000 Irrigation Water Management Systems program. The program was created to help farmers make important improvements to their irrigation systems and improve water conservation, nutrient management strategies, and crop production yields.

High-efficiency systems, such as micro-irrigation systems (e.gtrickle, drip, and low-flow emitters) target water within the root zone of the crop. These systems preserve water resources and can be used to transport nutrients reducing the potential of runoff and groundwater contamination. Proper irrigation also enhances the quantity and quality of most crops.

Implementation of agricultural environmental management plans on NYS Grown and Certified Farms

The Department is also making available $600,000 to support the implementation of AEM plans, which is a cornerstone for participation in the New York State Grown & Certified program. By participating in the program, farmers are certified as enrolled in AEM and committed to producing products using the highest environmental standards in order to protect and improve New York’s natural resources, including the water quality.

Specifically, funding provided to on-farm projects under this program will help farmers implement Conservation Practice Systems, which will improve soil health and manage nutrients and other agricultural inputs for greater crop availability. Although these Conservation Practice Systems have upfront costs, by implementing them, the farm will not only conserve natural resources but also improve efficiency and their economic bottom line. 

The maximum award amount is $50,000 per farm. Districts are not limited to the number of applications that may be submitted, however, only one application per farm is permitted.

New York State Grown & Certified promotes New York’s agricultural producers and growers who adhere to food safety and environmental sustainability standards. More than 3,000 farms are participating in the Grown & Certified program, representing over 750,000 acres of farmland.

The Irrigation Water Management System and AEM Plans on NYS Grown & Certified Farms programs are funded through the Oceans and Great Lakes Initiative, as part of the Environmental Protection Fund. New York State County Soil and Water Conservation Districts are eligible to apply for funding. Proposals must be submitted in the Grants Gateway by 4:30 p.m. April 6, 2020.

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