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$17 Million Earmarked to Protect, Preserve Water Quality Across NYS
New York Ag Connection - 06/11/2018

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced $17 million is available to protect and conserve critical soil and water resources on farms across New York State. Grants provided through the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program will help farmers address water quality challenges in priority watersheds by supporting strategic environmental planning and the implementation of best management practices.

Ball said, "With the Governor's leadership, the Empire State continues to serve as a model for environmental stewardship. This program is a key part of that effort, supporting projects with far-reaching benefits that enhance our farms and ensure the health and quality of our farmland and fresh water resources--two of our most valuable assets."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "New York farmers are the backbone of communities across the state and a critical part of our growing economy. These funds are yet another example of Governor Cuomo's commitment to ensure water quality challenges are addressed safely and responsibly and that New York continues to serve as an aggressive leader in environmental protections." The Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program provides grants to County Soil and Water Conservation Districts on behalf of farmers statewide. The funding will assist farms to implement a variety of best management practice systems, such as manure storage facilities for enhanced nutrient management, buffer strips to prevent and intercept nutrient runoff, and cover crops to enhance soil health.

The Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program also builds on the Governor's efforts to provide historic water quality protections across the state through the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017. Supported projects will enhance community health and wellness, safeguard the state's most important water resources, and create jobs. As part of the initiative, the Governor announced $50 million last September to implement water quality protection projects on New York livestock farms.

The Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program is funded in the 2017-18 State Budget through the historic $300 million New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). This year's budget includes a continuation of record funding for the EPF for a third consecutive year and funds a 25th round of the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program. Since 1993, New York State has dedicated nearly $177 million to the program.

The program is managed by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee. It is a part of the Agricultural Environmental Management framework, a broader effort that helps farmers achieve higher levels of environmental stewardship and more efficient, cost-effective farming systems. County Soil and Water Conservation Districts use the AEM framework to assist interested farmers through several stages of planning and implementation to make science-based and cost-effective decisions. As a result, farmers can meet business goals while protecting and conserving the state's natural resources.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie said, "New York State's hardworking farmers are leading the way when it comes to implementing environmentally safe practices that help to protect our soil and water. Through this program, which I was proud to advocate for, they can continue the important work they do not only to support New York's leading industry, but also to be good stewards of the land and other natural resources they use."

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Assemblyman Bill Magee said, "This funding is essential to the health and well-being of our farms and our communities. It will help keep our waters clean and safe for future generations, while ensuring that farmers can continue to produce fresh, local foods while doing their part to protect our waters from pollution sources."

Dale Stein, chair of the NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee said, "This program greatly helps farmers install innovative programs on their farms that help protect our vital waterways, improve soil health, improve air quality, and improve the farmer's ability to efficiently operate their farm. Without this program few farmers would be able to accomplish these practices. I am grateful for the Governor's continued support of this program, the Environmental Protection Fund, and the state's Soil and Water Conservation Districts."

David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau president, said, "The latest round of grant funding through the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program will continue in the long tradition that farmers have in this state of protecting our environment and waterways. The investment farmers make in best management practices showcases their commitment to reducing soil erosion and nutrient runoff. Governor Cuomo has made a long-standing commitment to the Environmental Protection Fund and New York Farm Bureau appreciates the continued funding of this essential program."

Districts can apply for Round 24 of the program through Aug. 20. The Request for Proposals is available on the Department of Agriculture and Markets website. All appropriate materials must be submitted through the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee SharePoint website. For additional details about this program and other natural resource protection programs, please contact your local County Soil and Water Conservation District.

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