New funding for water quality in New York StateStaff writer ▼ | January 15, 2014
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. 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 countr," Governor Cuomo said.
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. ■