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Nearly $9 Million for Water Quality Protection on Livestock Farms
New York Ag Connection - 05/15/2019

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced nearly $9 million will be awarded to implement water quality protection projects on 24 farms across the state. This funding is provided through the third round of the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Waste Storage and Transfer System Program. The funded projects will allow livestock farms to better manage and store nutrients such as manure to protect groundwater and nearby waterways. This program is part of the governor's $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, which invests resources for drinking water, wastewater infrastructure, and other water quality protections statewide.

"New York's farms are integral to regional economies across the state and play a critical role in environmental conservation," Cuomo said. "These funds will help farms across the state offset the costs for implementing new and improved strategies for caring for the land and protecting our waterways."

"It is critical that we ensure our waterways are free of contaminants and safe for all New Yorkers," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This investment for projects on farms statewide will support conservation efforts to enhance and protect water quality. We want to make sure that farmers have the resources they need to prevent pollution and ensure the health and safety of residents."

Twenty-four waste storage and transfer systems will be installed on CAFO-permitted farms in 19 counties throughout the state, with the grants helping offset the cost of construction, site preparation, and best management practices. The $8.9 million in funding is provided to County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which applied on behalf of eligible farmers across the state.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "These funds support a smart approach to nutrient management and water protection. We're thankful that our farmers are protecting and caring for our natural resources and that the Governor provides funding to assist farmers with these projects that improve our waterways."

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "The awards announced today will help New York's farmers to implement conservation projects that safeguard our waters and ensure the resiliency of our farms. The farming industry is critical to New York's bottom line and these water quality protection projects give farmers the financial support they need to operate responsibly while protecting public health and the environment."

These grants will help farmers meet DEC requirements and support the state's comprehensive effort to reduce the frequency of harmful algal blooms in upstate waterbodies. Since the program's launch, nearly $32 million has been awarded to 89 farms to support manure storage construction, site preparation, and associated best management practices.

New York State has more than 500 CAFO farms, most of which are dairy farms with 300 or more cows. Livestock operations such as beef, poultry and equine farms can also be CAFOs.

New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee Chair Dale Stein said, "New York State has awarded $8.9 million dollars to 24 farms to install waste storages and associated manure transfer systems. This money awarded through the soil and water conservation districts will help farms meet the CAFO regulations and is another example of New York farms protecting our vital water resources for the generations following us."

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Jen Metzger said, "Clean water and healthy soil are essential to a thriving agricultural sector, and we appreciate the work of farmers to ensure that their operations not only protect our natural resources but also restore nutrients to the land. The funds provided through the State's Clean Water Infrastructure Act for the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Waste Storage and Transfer System Program are an important investment to help New York livestock farmers build and maintain safeguards that will improve and protect our water resources."

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Donna Lupardo said, "These grants provide incentives for farms to implement best practices that will help protect our waterways. Given the concern over harmful algal blooms in Upstate lakes, ponds, and rivers, these investments are critical in the effort to protect our most precious natural resource."

The Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 invested a record $2.5 billion in critical water infrastructure across New York State. Governor Cuomo has committed an additional $2.5 billion, doubling the funding to support clean water projects, over the next five years. The historic investment in drinking water infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure, and source water protection will enhance community health and wellness, safeguard the state's most important water resources, and create jobs. Funding for projects will prioritize regional and watershed level solutions and incentivize consolidation and sharing of water and wastewater services.

In 2018, Governor Cuomo directed DEC to implement his $65 million, four-point initiative to aggressively combat harmful algal blooms, or HABs, in New York. HABs threaten the recreational use of lakes important to upstate tourism, as well as sources of drinking water. DEC chose as priority waterbodies 12 waterbodies which are vulnerable to algal blooms and are also major sources of drinking water and vital tourism drivers. After four regional summits and with input from national, state and local experts, and its state agency partners, DEC developed action plans specific to the ecology of these waterbodies. The lessons learned from the implementation of these plans is helping DEC to identify solutions to help impacted waterbodies across the state. These manure storage and transfer systems will allow farmers in vulnerable watersheds to better manage and store nutrients that could cause HABs.

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