Funding Provided for 33 Agricultural Projects to Help Farmers Across the State Enhance Water Quality in Priority Watersheds
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced over $13.8 million has been awarded to 33 projects across the state through the State’s Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program. The funding supports agricultural water quality conservation projects, which will benefit 80 farms, enhance water quality in priority watersheds, and protect the environment. This announcement comes during Climate Week 2023 and is part of Governor Hochul’s commitment to protecting the state’s natural resources and environment through New York State’s leading climate agenda.
"New York State has long been a leader in the fight against climate change, and today, I’m proud to say that we are continuing that legacy with this round of funding," Governor Hochul said. “Preserving our environment starts with ensuring our communities across the state have the resources to implement sustainable methods and best management practices. These projects will protect clean water across New York State and help New York's farmers continue their work to mitigate the impacts of climate — creating a brighter future for all.”
The 33 projects awarded to 22 county Soil and Water Conservation Districts will support on-farm environmental planning and the implementation of best management practice (BMP) systems to keep nutrients and other potential pollutants from entering waterways, promote soil health and aid farms to be more resilient to climate change driven extreme precipitation. BMPs include a variety of measures, including installing vegetative buffers along streams, planting cover crops, enhancing nutrient management through manure storage, and other conservation measures.
Round 29 grants for the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program were awarded to:
- Western New York: $764,876 to work with six farms
- Finger Lakes: $2,869,595 to work with 28 farms
- Central New York: $5,548,936 to work with 23 farms
- Southern Tier: $2,381,037 to work with seven farms
- Mohawk Valley: $1,166,366 to work with three farms
- North Country: $844,882 to work with nine farms
- Mid Hudson: $248,211 to work with four farms
For a complete list of projects awarded, please visit the Department of Agriculture and Markets' website.
In response to the announcement of Round 29, the Department received 96 proposals for funding. Among the applications, 46 farms applied for cover crop assistance on approximately 25,000 acres, and 61 farms applied for riparian buffers on 100 acres of stream or riverbanks.
Over the past 29 years, New York State has supported projects covering over 600 separate watersheds across the State, including over 1000 prescribed rotational grazing systems that include a variety of best management practices that create perennial pasture to enhance soil health and exclude livestock from surface water resources. Nutrient management and manure storage projects supported by the program help farms actively balance nutrient supply and crop nutrient demand, which benefits the environment and enhances farm viability. More than 800 acres of riparian buffer have been created to filter nutrients and sediment, protecting surface water, stabilizing streambanks, improving aquatic habitat, and reducing impacts from flooding.
In addition, more than 12,000 acres of reduced tillage practices have been implemented and more than 145,000 acres of cover crops have been planted to help prevent erosion, improve soil health, and increase organic matter in the soil, which retains more moisture for crop demand through the growing season. Cover crops also sequester carbon, helping New York's farmers combat climate change. Through Round 29 of this program, over 19,000 acres of cover crop will be implemented. Riparian buffers are another practice that lead to higher carbon sequestration potential in our state’s farmland, in addition to offering water quality benefits. Over 50 acres of herbaceous and forested buffers will be implemented through Round 29.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Environmental stewardship and agricultural sustainability have always gone hand in hand, which is why programs like these are so important. New York farmers are committed to farming in a way that reduces their environmental footprint and protects our natural resources. This funding will give them the tools they need to implement the sustainable, cost-effective environmental management programs that will protect New York's natural resources for years to come. I want to thank Governor Hochul, our county Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state, and of course, all the farmers who applied to receive these funds."
New York State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “As New York continues to experience first-hand the impacts of climate change on our daily lives, it is now more important than ever to invest in efforts to enhance resilience and protect natural resources for future generations. The $13.8 million grant awards announced today are a significant investment to support the ongoing efforts of New York’s farmers and agricultural communities to safeguard water resources and soil quality, in order to sustain agricultural operations and support economic growth across the state."
New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee Chairman Dale Stein said, “Congratulations to this year’s Agricultural Non-Point Source Grant Program Awardees. These farms are carrying on the long tradition of New York Farms working to improve and enhance the environment on their land. New York leads the country in environmental work done on lands by farmers to preserve, protect and enhance the environment for the future generations.”
Senator Michelle Hinchey, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, said, “As the stewards of our natural resources, New York farmers work incredibly hard to safeguard our lands and waters to produce the healthy, local foods we depend on. New York’s environmental progress is tied to strong partnerships with our agricultural community, and this long-standing grant program will help our farmers continue that vital work.”
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair, said, “Our Soil and Water Conservation Districts work hard to protect NY’s natural resources through planning and promoting best practices. The Agricultural Non-Point Source Program provides them with the resources needed to develop unique on-farm solutions for NY’s farmers. I’d like to thank the Governor, Ag & Markets, and my legislative colleagues for supporting water contaminant prevention through the Environmental Protection Fund. I’d also like to thank the farmers who are receiving these funds for their environmental stewardship.”
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets administers the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program in coordination with the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee. The program 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.
The Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program builds on the State's efforts to provide historic water quality protections, including the State's unprecedented $3.5 billion commitment to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to clean water and its aggressive actions taken to combat climate change.
New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
Under the Governor’s leadership, New York State continues to lead the nation with its robust climate and clean energy agenda. As part of the State’s greater climate initiatives, several agricultural programs administered through the Department of Agriculture and Markets help protect on-farm water quality and preserve farmland. New York State's nation-leading investment in clean water infrastructure totals $5 billion since 2017. Under the leadership of Governor Hochul, the 2023-24 Enacted Budget includes $500 million in clean water funding, including continued support for the Climate Resilient Farming Program (CRF), in addition to the Ag Non-Point Program, both of which build on the State's efforts to provide historic water quality protections. The CRF and Ag Non-Point programs function as part of the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) framework, a broader effort that helps farmers achieve higher levels of environmental stewardship and more efficient, cost-effective farming systems.
In addition, the Department is an integral part of the State’s Climate Action Council, which recently completed a series of public comment sessions on its Scoping Plan. The Scoping Plan will serve as the framework for how New York will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero emissions, increase renewable energy use, and ensure all communities equitably benefit in the clean energy transition.
New York State has also reached a significant milestone in protecting valuable and at-risk farmland through its Farmland Protection Implementation Grant (FPIG) program. As of this year, the FPIG program has helped preserve more than 107,000 acres of New York farmland through completed conservation easement projects totaling more than $250 million on nearly 370 farms.
In September 2022, the New York State initiative, NYS Connects: Climate Smart Farms and Forests Project, was also awarded a $60 million grant through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity. Led by the State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Agriculture and Markets, the project is one of 70 selected nationally to receive federal funding to help foster farm and forest landowner adoption of climate smart practices and help connect these farm and forest commodities to consumers through market development.
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