Agriculture Secretary celebrates conservation progress in agriculture, $22.5 million from PA Farm Bill supporting sustainable agriculture

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Christiana, Pennsylvania – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and his conservation partners visited a no-till rotational pasture farm in Lancaster County today to highlight Governor Tom Wolf’s $22.5 million investment in conservation and sustainability through its Pennsylvania Farm Bill. Partners have demonstrated farm management methods that result in more efficient operations; cleaner waterways; and nurtured and productive lands, and discussed the financial support and initiatives Pennsylvania is investing in to support their success.

The 28-acre vegetable, grain and beef cattle farm received a Conservation Excellence Grant through the Pennsylvania Farm Bill from the Wolf Administration to improve operations and protect the environment through planning and construction of an intensive use zone and other strategies.

“Pennsylvania farmers know that sustainable practices are critical to the future of agriculture and the industry’s ability to continue feeding and feeding PA communities,” Redding said. “The conservation grants provided by the PA Farm Bill, which total $22.5 million in public funding, have been instrumental in supporting farmers as they implement measures that grow and maintain their operations and protect the natural resources on which they depend.”

Some of the agricultural conservation programs supporting farmers and others in Pennsylvania agriculture are making strides in protecting the environment:

USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Recently, the department announced that its Farmland Preservation Program won a $7.85 million Competitive Partnership Grant from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to support climate-smart conservation. climate on Pennsylvania farms.

Pennsylvania’s $12.8 million investment in farm preservation will leverage those federal dollars for farms that implement and measure the impact of practices that combat climate change.

The Pennsylvania grant will fund projects to install climate-smart practices on conservation farms – measures and practices targeted to address the specific challenges that climate change presents on each farm. The funds will also support producers interested in switching to organic production. The PA Preferred® Organic program funded by the PA Farm Bill will provide assistance with organic certification of farms.

Pennsylvania Dirt, Gravel, and Low-Volume Roads Program

The department recently celebrated 25 years of the Pennsylvania Dirt, Gravel and Low Volume Roads (DGLVR) program with a tour of Huntingdon County’s improved rural roads used by farmers, loggers and others. This program results in better roads and cleaner waterways. Local governments can request more information from the State Conservation Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies, to discuss a project in their area.

Clean Streams Fund and Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program

The 2022-23 state budget established the Clean Streams Fund, with $220 million from the US federal bailout law. This fund provides $154 million to finance the new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP), which supports farmers’ efforts to reduce water pollution and improve soil quality, and $22 million to increase funding for the current Nutrient Management Fund, which supports technical assistance to farms to reduce runoff. The ministry will announce more information about ACAP when it becomes available.

Farmland Preservation Program

Pennsylvania has now protected 6,118 farms and 616,713 acres in 58 counties from future commercial, industrial or residential development, investing more than $1.6 billion in conserving land resources for the future.

Farm families, with the support of state and local investments, often sell their land below market value, donate additional land, or agree to conservation practices on their farms to raise federal and state funds. to preserve more family farms.

Resource Enhancement and Protection Program

Redding recently reminded farmers in Pennsylvania to apply by November 18, 2022 for tax credits for actions they have taken to improve soil and water quality. Up to $13 million in tax credits are available through Pennsylvania’s innovative conservation funding program, Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP).

The department accepts applications for REAP tax credits from agricultural producers who implement management practices or purchase equipment aimed at reducing nutrient and sediment runoff, improving soil, and improving the quality of waterways from Pennsylvania.

This is the fourth year of increased funding and expanded program eligibility under the PA Farm Bill. Farmers can receive up to $250,000 over a seven-year period, and jointly filing spouses can use REAP tax credits.

REAP can be combined with clean and green tax incentives, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, the Chesapeake Bay Program, and other public funding to support farmer conservation investments.

AgriLink program

The Agriculture-Related Low-Interest Loan (AgriLink) program, amended under Law 39 of 2019, provides “low-interest” loans to help farmers implement the best management practices listed in approved Bill 38 Nutrient Management Plans, Chapter 91 Manure Management Plans, Agricultural Erosion and Sedimentation Plans, or Conservation Plans.

The AgriLink program is administered by the PA Treasury, in conjunction with the State Conservation Commission, which subsidizes interest rates to provide a genuine low-interest loan to farmers through eligible commercial lenders and the Farm Credit Service.

The intent of the AgriLink program is to provide a low interest loan alternative if a conventional loan is not practical for the farmer.

Conservation Excellence Grant

Established under the 2019 PA Farm Bill, the Conservation Excellence Grant (CEG) program is administered by the State Conservation Commission in partnership with county conservation districts to provide financial and technical support to implement best practices in farm management in high priority areas across the Commonwealth. It has made $8.5 million in public funding available since 2019.

It provides farmers with financial options through a combination of grants, loans and tax credits to implement best management practices such as cover cropping, riparian buffers, shoreline restoration, nutrient management, etc. Eligible projects are reimbursed for costs associated with project engineering and planning, installation, equipment and post-construction inspection.

To learn more about the Wolf administration’s investments in growing opportunities and resources for Pennsylvania agriculture through the PA Farm Bill and other conservation-specific programs and resources, visit www.agriculture. pa.gov.

REMARK: Photos and videos from today’s event will be available on PAcast.

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers, [email protected]

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