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Friday, January 17, 2014

$12 Million Available to Protect Water Quality & Make New York's Farms Safer & Cleaner

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $12 million to aid farms in implementing water quality conservation systems that will help make New York’s farms cleaner and safer. This funding is available to County Soil and Water Conservation Districts through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund. Grants will be administered by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee.

“New York’s agricultural industry has been an economic success story for the past three years and its continued growth depends on keeping our farms safe and clean,” Governor Cuomo said. “This $12 million will help local farmers across New York maintain a clean water supply which is vital to their livelihood. With our support, New York’s farms are going to continue to expand, creating more jobs and making our state’s home grown products popular across the country.”

Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution is runoff from agricultural lands that has the potential to enter water bodies. This funding will help farmers work with County Soil and Water Conservation Districts to prevent such pollution from occurring by employing soil erosion prevention methods, planting vegetation along streams to prevent runoff, adopting nutrient management systems, and planting cover crops after the annual harvest to protect the soil.

County Soil and Water Conservation Districts can apply for grants under the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program (AgNPS Program) Request for Proposals (RFP). The AgNPS Program is a competitive grant program that awards funding to County Soil and Water Conservation Districts. In turn, these Districts will address water quality challenges facing farms in priority watersheds throughout the State.

Conservation Districts utilize the state’s Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) framework to help farmers meet these challenges head on. The AEM framework sets water quality priorities and helps farmers develop specific plans to qualify for implementation through the AgNPS Program. Administered through the County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, AEM helps farms make common sense, cost-effective and science-based decisions to help meet business objectives while protecting and conserving the State’s natural resources. Currently, more than 13,000 farms participate in AEM, which has helped install 5,000 new conservation practices with the assistance of AgNPS Program funds. Since the program’s inception in 1993, New York State has dedicated more than $125 million to the AgNPS Program.

George Proios, Chair of the NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee, said, "New York's 58 local Soil & Water Conservation Districts are extremely grateful for the strong support Governor Cuomo has shown us over the past several years: for signing legislation that authorizes increased state funding; by providing increased reimbursement in his state budget to recognize local Districts’ critical work during two major storm events; and for increases each year to the Environmental Protection Fund that provide important resources to local farmers for projects that protect, preserve and enhance our state's natural resources. In this 20th cycle of funding, the Committee is pleased to be able to once again provide opportunities to partner local Conservation Districts with farmers to promote conservation across New York State.”

The Round 20 AgNPS Program RFP for County Soil and Water Conservation Districts is available on the Department of Agriculture and Markets website: http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html. All appropriate materials must be submitted by the deadline of March 31, 2014 for the application to be considered complete.

For additional details about this program and other natural resource protection programs, please contact your local County Soil and Water Conservation District. A complete listing of County Soil and Water Conservation Districts can be found here: http://www.nys-soilandwater.org/contacts/county_offices.html.

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