The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will reimburse farmers in Pennsylvania’s part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed for the cost of preparing hundreds of agricultural plans for clean water.
“We know it can be a challenge, especially for small operations, to afford fees for technical help on plans for pollutant reduction in local streams and rivers,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Through reimbursements to farmers, our Agricultural Plan Reimbursement Program will cover the cost of preparation of at least 800 and as many as 2,200 plans.”
The program is part of a commitment that Governor Wolf, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in 2016 to make state and federal funding available to improve water quality in Pennsylvania’s 43 counties in the Bay watershed for local benefit and, ultimately, all partner states in the watershed.
“Farmers recognize the importance of conservation stewardship because they depend on clean water and healthy soil,” said Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Throughout the watershed—and throughout the state—there are countless farmers who want to do the right thing when it comes to protecting our natural resources. This reimbursement plan is part of Governor Wolf’s commitment to investing in Pennsylvania farmers, the viability of their operations, and the health of our waterways.”
State regulations require all farmers to implement manure management, nutrient management, or agriculture erosion and sediment control plans and, in some cases, more than one of these plans. The regulations are a key component of Pennsylvania’s effort to meet its EPA-mandated water pollution reduction targets for the Chesapeake Bay.
To prepare their plans, many farmers enlist technical experts, whose services generally cost from $500 to $1,500 per plan, depending on the size of the farm. Farmers can now be reimbursed for plans developed after January 1, 2017.
Consultants are coordinating the reimbursement program, conducting extensive outreach to farmers, and supplying potential options for farmers who are seeking technical experts.
The deadline to register to participate in the program is April 1, 2018, and plans must be submitted to the appropriate consultant by May 30.
Farmers in the Bay watershed in Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Elk, Jefferson, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming Counties should contact:
Farmers in the Bay watershed in Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Cambria, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Somerset, and York Counties should contact:
“By partnering on agricultural inspections compliance, providing federal grants for best management practice implementation, helping to document farmers’ voluntary efforts, and now sharing costs on agricultural plans,” Secretary McDonnell said, “DEP is doing everything it can to assist farmers in their efforts to clean up our local waters.”
For map of Chesapeake Bay Watershed in Pennsylvania, click here.