Awards to Help 24 Farms Reduce Their Environmental Impact and Recover from Extreme Weather Events
Fourth Round of Grants Supported by the Environmental Protection Fund in 2019-2020 NYS Budget
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $2.3 million will be awarded to 24 farms across the state through the Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program. Launched by the Governor in 2015, the program helps farms reduce their operational impact on the environment and address the impacts of extreme weather events resulting from climate change. Through four rounds of funding to date, the state has provided $8 million to assist farms across New York State. The 2019-2020 State Budget, through the Environmental Protection Fund, included an additional $3.9 million in funding for a fifth round, to be announced later this year.
"Extreme weather conditions caused by climate change are unfortunately becoming increasingly common," Governor Cuomo said. "The results can be devastating to New York State's farmers, who are on the front lines and must deal with heavy rains, drought, extreme cold and heat waves, all of which can damage crops and farmland. These funds will help farmers prepare for and deal with the effects of extreme weather."
Awarded Round 4 projects in Central New York, Finger Lakes, the Mohawk Valley, Hudson Valley, Southern Tier, North Country, and Western New York regions focus on Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance soil health and promote energy savings. Projects also increase irrigation capacity and emphasize water management to mitigate the effects of periods of drought on crops and livestock, as well as heavy rainfall and flooding.
County Soil and Water Conservation Districts were awarded grants on behalf of farmers in one of the following project categories: agricultural waste storage cover and flare for methane reduction, on-farm water management, and soil health systems.
- Fulton County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $78,397 to assist two farms with the installation and use of solar-powered irrigation water management systems to reduce the use of diesel fuel and gasoline, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, improve climate resiliency, and reduce the release of nitrogen. The projects will also enhance the efficiency of energy use for water transport, crop production, and farm stand store operations.
- Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $130,365 to work with one farm to install two separate prescribed rotational grazing systems. Silvopasture practices, which combines forestry with grazing, will be conducted on a portion of the farm to improve water quality, minimize erosion, reduce storm water runoff, and increase carbon sequestration.
- Schoharie County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $32,657 to work with one beef farm to convert 68 acres of cropland to a rotational grazing system and permanent pasture. This plan will reduce the farm's carbon footprint and provide overall benefits to the environment.
- Seneca County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $106,100 to work with two farms in the Cayuga Lake Watershed on various water management systems to decrease emissions while bolstering resiliency to flooding and erosion. This project aligns with goals set forth in the Cayuga Lake Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Action Plan.
- Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $39,690 to work with one farm to implement an irrigation water management system. The Micro-Irrigation Drip System will be installed over 20 acres of high-density fruit trees to efficiently apply water and fertilizer directly to the plant root zone, maintaining soil moisture for optimum plant and fruit growth.
- Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $1,002,641 to work with three dairy farms to install manure storage cover and flare systems to capture and destroy methane while also preventing clean rainwater from entering the storage, which will improve waste storage capacity and water quality.
Another $227,944 was awarded to the District to work with a fourth farm to implement 4,020 acres of cover crops annually and 780 acres of residue and tillage management annually. These BMPs will decrease soil erosion, reduce runoff, enhance soil health, increase organic matter and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $79,100 to work with one dairy farm to reshape and stabilize a stream channel and reduce erosion. This will prevent ongoing flooding and damage from storms.
- Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $60,778 to work with one dairy farm to install a rock-lined waterway with several outlets to direct runoff and storm water into a riparian buffer, reducing erosion, accumulation of sediment and the amount of nutrients that reach Skaneateles Lake. A second farm will receive assistance to install a 25-acre prescribed grazing system to facilitate rotational grazing. Accumulated sediment will be removed from existing drainage ways to reduce pasture flooding risk and allow for new livestock crossings with fencing that will prevent livestock from entering waterways.
- Essex County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $82,330 to work with one farm to implement cover cropping, intercropping, and forage and biomass planting. These practices will promote continual vegetative cover and reduce tillage on over 200 acres and are expected to sequester 325 tons of carbon.
- Clinton Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $14,272 to work with a dairy farm to implement cover crops on 240 acres to add organic matter to the soil, improving water holding capacity to withstand drought and periods of excess moisture.
Another $17,705 was awarded to work with a diverse agri-business to convert 12 acres of hayfields into pasture and to implement a prescribed rotational grazing system. These steps will improve soil health, reducing compaction and improving moisture retention during drought. They will also reduce herd reliance on hay during the summer.
- Westchester County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $89,851 to work with one farm to install 15 BMPs to address flooding in critical farm areas and increase farm carbon sequestration. This system of BMPs will prevent flooding of heavy-use areas and critical infrastructure by capturing storm water and redirecting it to the constructed wetland. Additionally, the nutrient management plan, grazing plan and perennial forage planting will improve soil organic matter and increase the amount of CO2 sequestered in the soil.
Western New York
- Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $34,040 to assist one beef farm with the construction of a riparian forest buffer and exclude livestock from a perennial stream, which is a tributary to Lake Erie. Implementation of this project will result in carbon sequestration in the riparian forest buffer and reduce stream bank erosion from flooding.
- Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $244,130 to work with one farm to install riparian forest buffers and plant trees for carbon sequestration. Streambank protection, floodplain reconnection, berm removal, and wetland enhancements will help mitigate flood effects, allowing the farm to improve resilience and adapt to climate change.
- Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $60,000 to assist one farm with the installation of grassed waterways and retention ponds to reduce runoff from the farm into roadside ditches. This will help the farm adapt to weather extremes and allow water storage for livestock and the irrigation of perennials, while protecting pastures and trees from excess water flow.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "We are thankful that Governor Cuomo continues to support our farmers to deal with the increase in severe weather that presents a serious challenge on our farms. These funds support projects that help mitigate the effects of flooding, drought and extreme temperatures while encouraging the land stewardship that our farmers are known for nationally."
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "New York continues to be a leader in combating climate change because we know how much is at stake, especially for the future viability and success of our farmers. With this new funding for the farming community, we will make more gains in reducing greenhouse gases and other contributors to our changing climate while continuing to support productive and environmentally sustainable agriculture."
Chair of Committee on Agriculture Senator Jen Metzger said, "Agriculture is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and New York's farmers are an essential partner in reducing the severity of its impacts and protecting natural resources. These funds not only help our farms improve resiliency but also support projects to reduce their environmental impact, save money on energy costs, and improve their land."
Chair of Committee on Agriculture Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, "Farmers across the state know the effects of climate change all too well. This funding will help them protect their operations from extreme weather while also promoting greener farms. Our agricultural industry is in a unique position to help address this pressing issue; these investments not only help them do their part in our fight against climate change, but they also ensure consumers continue having access to the best locally grown food."
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, "Farmers have proactively worked to improve sustainability and build up soil health. The incentives provided through the Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program will assist farms to continue down that path to better cope with extreme weather conditions and work collaboratively with the state to improve New York's environmental footprint."
New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee District Chair Dale Stein said, "This innovative program helps farms to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, prepare their farms for extreme storm events, such as heavy rains and drought, and to improve soil health, which can sequester carbon from other sources. This program is different than all other environmental grant programs the State offers to farmers -- helping farmers to not only fix problems but to help better prepare their farms for resilience to climate change. I hope this program can be expanded in the future so more New York farms can work with their local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to help improve, protect and enhance our environment for the generations that follow us."