Soil conservation and nutrient (manure) management plans are required documents for PA farmers. These plans can help the farmer protect local water quality and enhance their farm’s soil health as well as productivity.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has re-opened the “Agricultural Planning Reimbursement Program” for PA farms within the Chesapeake Bay watershed due to the strong response from Pennsylvania’s agricultural community. The program assists farmers with their agricultural planning needs. Funds will be available on a first-come, first-served basis through May 30, 2019.
All farms in PA must have some type of official Soil Conservation plan. This can be a simple “Erosion and Sediment Control Plan” (E&S Plan) or an official NRCS Soil Conservation Plan. These plans document your farming practices and assist the farmer to ensure that their farming practices limit erosion and soil degradation. Plans can sometimes be written at no-charge by your local conservation district, in other cases, a certified planner must be hired.
If a farm has any type of livestock, including horses and poultry, the responsible use of animal manures and fertilizer nutrients must also be documented. A farm with less than an average of 2.0 animal units per acre (AU, 1 AU = 1,000 lb. of live weight for 1 year), “Manure Management Plan” (MMP) will suffice. The Manure Management Plan Workbook can be completed by the farmer. However, if a farm has more than an average of 2.0 AU/acre, an Act 38 Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) must be developed by a certified planner.
What Kind of Plans are Eligible for Reimbursement?
Eligible planning will include Agricultural E&S Plans, NRCS level Soil Conservation Plans, Manure Management Plans and Act 38 Nutrient Management Plans developed by private consultants and paid for by the producer. Plans developed at no charge by NRCS, using NRCS funding, or submitted for REAP tax credits will not be eligible under this program. NOTE: acres reimbursed through the 2017-2018 program cycle are not eligible to be reimbursed again. The focus of this program is to get new planning on the ground.
More information and a list of certified planners can be found at the Penn State Extension Nutrient Management website.
What are the Steps to Apply for Funding?
Farmers must complete a “Registration Form” which should be available at your local conservation district, or NRCS office, or from a private planning consultant. Forms are then submitted to TeamAg inc. who is administering the program for PA. This will secure funding for the planning and provide a 90-day time period within which the plans will need to be developed. Finished plans are submitted to TeamAg for an administrative completeness review. Once approved, a paid invoice from the consultant, along with a “Plan Reimbursement Request Form”, will need to be submitted before the reimbursement is sent to the producer. The funding will come from DEP through TeamAg.
What if the Producer Already Paid for a Plan in 2017?
This program is retroactive for planning completed since January 1, 2017. Plans that have already been developed and are eligible for this program can be submitted immediately. The Registration Form, completed plans, Plan Reimbursement Request Form, and paid invoice can all be submitted at the same time for reimbursement for existing plans.
How Much Reimbursement is Provided?
The Manure Management Plan (or Nutrient Management Plans) must represent the operation in its entirety including all livestock groups and animal housing locations and all crop and pasture acres managed by the operation. Agricultural E&S Plans (or NRCS level Soil Conservation Plans) that were/are developed on a tract-by-tract basis can be eligible individually. The maximum amount of funding per plan cannot exceed $1,500.00/plan and is calculated using a base price of $500 for farms up to 50 acres plus $10/acre over 50 acres. Actual reimbursement cannot exceed the invoiced price (from the consultant) paid for by the producer. There is now a $6,000 limit per farming operation.
In addition to your local Conservation District or NRCS, farmers can contact TeamAg directly for application forms and additional information.
Jedd Moncavage, CPSS
Environmental Consulting Services Manager
120 Lake Street
Ephrata, PA 17522