Since its inception in 1961, the District has had a strong involvement in providing technical assistance to Greene County agricultural producers.
In recent years, the type of agriculture in Greene County has changed with fewer dairy operators. However, there has been an increase in smaller niche and part-time operators, maintaining a viable agricultural presence in the county.
The District continues to consider the agricultural community a priority client, and works with a wide variety of local, state and federal agencies to provide support and funding to local operators.
New York State Programs
Agricultural Assessment Program
Agricultural producers in Greene County may qualify for a reduced land assessment if they meet certain qualifications.
For more information visit
Agricultural Environmental Management
AEM is a voluntary, incentive-based program that helps farmers make common-sense, cost-effective and science-based decisions to help meet business objectives while protecting and conserving New York State's natural resources. Farmers work with local AEM resource professionals to develop comprehensive farm plans using a tiered process:
- Tier 1 – Inventory current activities, future plans and potential environmental concerns.
- Tier 2 – Document current land stewardship; assess and prioritize areas of concern.
- Tier 3 – Develop conservation plans addressing concerns and opportunities tailored to farm goals.
- Tier 4 – Implement plans utilizing available financial, educational and technical assistance.
- Tier 5 – Evaluate to ensure the protection of the environment and farm viability.
For more information visit www.nys-soilandwater.org/aem/index.html
New York State Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
The NYS Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (NYS CREP) aims to reduce pollution in streams by helping agricultural landowners to voluntarily plant trees, shrubs, and grasses on streambanks to trap sediment, pesticides and fertilizers in runoff.
Landowners are compensated for the loss of productive agricultural land through annual rental payments and upfront incentive payments based on the total acreage dedicated to forested buffers or vegetated filter strips. Contracts can either be 10 or 15 years, during which the buffers must be maintained by the contracted individual. Cost-share funding up to 50% with an additional 40% in incentive payments is available for planting materials, fencing, watering facilities, and stream crossings.
For more information visit www.nys-soilandwater.org/crep/index.html
Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planning
A Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) is a conservation plan, unique to animal feeding operations, designed to evaluate all aspects of farm production and offer conservation practices that help achieve production and natural resource conservation goals. As part of the AEM initiative the NYS Soil & Water Conservation Committee, with guidance from other partner agencies, established a comprehensive certification process to ensure that certified planners from both the public and private sectors are available and qualified to meet the high standards for CNMP development and implementation.
CNMPs are the foundation for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s environmental regulatory program to control potential water pollution from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) under State General Permit GP-04-04, and are also a requirement for farms seeking federal or state cost-sharing to construct a manure storage structure. However, a CNMP can also be developed and implemented by any livestock farm seeking to maximize production, while efficiently managing their natural resources and protecting the environment.
For more information visit www.nys-soilandwater.org/aem/cnmp.html
Agricultural Nonpoint Souce Abatement and Control Grant Program
This grant program was established in 1994 by the State of New York to assist farmers in preventing water pollution from agricultural activities by providing technical assistance and financial incentives. County Soil & Water Conservation Districts apply for the competitive grants on behalf of farmers and coordinate funded activities. Grants can cost-share up to 75% of project costs or more if farm owners or operators contribute, in the following two areas:
- Planning; funds awarded to conduct environmental planning
- Implementation; funds awarded to construct or apply management practices
The New York State Soil & Water Conservation Committee and the Department of Agriculture & Markets coordinate the statewide program and allocate funds provided by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund on a semi-annual basis. Since the program began in 1994 more than $50 million has been awarded to 53 Soil & Water Conservation Districts across the state to help farmers reduce and prevent agricultural sources of Nonpoint Source (NPS) Pollution.
For more information visit www.nys-soilandwater.org/aem/nonpoint.html
Farmland Protection Program
The Farmland Protection Program (FPP) provides state assistance payments to eligible counties and towns to cover up to 50% of the costs to develop agricultural and farmland protection plans. Payments are also available to municipalities to cover up to 75% of the toal costs for the purchase of development rights on viable farmland. Several grants of up to $50,000 each are awarded on a rolling basis each year to counties that apply.
For more information visit www.agmkt.state.ny.us/AP/agservices/farmprotect.html
Farmland Viability Grants
Designed to help maintain farmland as a working landscape, this program funds the development of farm viability plans and the implementation of projects which contribute to farm profitability and sound environmental management. Grant funds may be used by a county to implement a portion of its agricultural and farmland protection plan or may be used by an individual farm to develop or implement a business management plan.
For more information visit www.agmkt.state.ny.us/GROWNY/funding.html
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Agriculture Incentives
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers cost-sharing and low-interest financing through its agricultural programs to help farms throughout New York State save energy, develop new products, and increase profits. NYSERDA has provided funding to help farmers lower on-far energy costs, use more environmentally friendly manure-management methods, improve profitability though value-added products, and generate their own electricity.
For more information visit www.nyserda.org/Programs/Agricultural/default.asp
New York State Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative
The New York State Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (NYSGLCI) is a voluntary and cooperative effort led by a coalition representing several producer, conservation, scientific, and environmental organizations. The collaborative process provides technical assistance from NRCS to owners and managers of private grazing land to voluntarily conserve or enhance their resources to meet ecological, economic, and social demands. Consultants are available to assist with species selection, the planning and design of grazing systems, and assistance with ration balancing with managed intensive grazing. For more information contact GCSWCD or call NYSGLCI at (607) 753-0851 ext. 117.
For more information visit www.glci.org
Agricultural Management Assistance
Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) provides cost share assistance to agricultural producers to voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporating conservation into their farming operations. Producers may construct or improve water management structures or irrigation structures; plant trees for windbreaks or to improve water quality; and mitigate risk through production diversification or resource conservation practices, including soil erosion control, integrated pest management, or transition to organic farming.
For more information visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ama
Conservation Reserve Program
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners. Through CRP, you can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland.
The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) makes annual rental payments based on the agriculture rental value of the land, and it provides cost-share assistance for up to 50 percent of the participant's costs in establishing approved conservation practices. Participants enroll in CRP contracts for 10 to 15 years.
For more information visit
Conservation Stewardship Program
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by:
- Undertaking additional conservation activities; and
- Improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.
CSP is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land in all 50 States and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands Areas. The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location.
For more information visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html#describe
Debt for Nature Program
The Debt for Nature Program, also known as the Debt Cancellation Conservation Contract Program, is a unique program for eligible landowners that protects important natural resources and other sensitive areas while providing a debt management tool. DFN is available to persons with Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans secured by real estate. These individuals may qualify for cancellation of a portion of their FSA indebtedness in exchange for a conservation contract with a term of 50, 30, or 10 years. The conservation contract is a voluntary legal agreement that restricts the type and amount of development that may take place on portions of the landowner’s property. Contracts may be established on marginal cropland and other environmentally sensitive lands for conservation, recreation, and wildlife purposes.
For more information visit www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/debtfornature07.pdf
Emergency Conservation Program
USDA Farm Service Agency's (FSA) Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought. Funding for ECP is appropriated by Congress.
For more information visit
Environmental Quality Incentives Program
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program for farmers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality. EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to eligible participants for the installation or implementation of structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. The maximum cost-share is 75% except in the case of beginning farmers or other limited resource farmers, for whom the rate is 90%.
For more information visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip
Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program
The Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) provides matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranchland in agricultural uses. Working through existing programs, USDA partners with State, tribal, or local governments and non-governmental organizations to acquire conservation easements or other interests in land from landowners. USDA provides up to 50 percent of the fair market easement value of the conservation easement.
To qualify, farmland must: be part of a pending offer from a State, tribe, or local farmland protection program; be privately owned; have a conservation plan for highly erodible land; be large enough to sustain agricultural production; be accessible to markets for what the land produces; have adequate infrastructure and agricultural support services; and have surrounding parcels of land that can support long-term agricultural production. Depending on funding availability, proposals must be submitted by the eligible entities to the appropriate NRCS State Office during the application window.
For more information visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/frpp
Grassland Reserve Program
The Grassland Reserve Program funds restoration and preservation of pasture and grassland with easements, rental agreements, and cost-share payments. Eligible GRP land includes private grassland, shrubland, land containing forbs, or land located in a area historically dominated by grassland, shrubland, or forbs with the potential to serve as animal or plant habitat. The program offers several enrollment options.
For more information visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/GRP
Wetlands Reserve Program
The Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts. The NRCS goal is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program. This program offers landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and protection.
For more information visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/wrp
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program
The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) provides technical and financial assistance to landowners to develop upland, wetland, riparian, and aquatic habitat areas on their property. NRCS works with the landowner to develop a wildlife habitat development plan, and provides cost-share payments to landowners under agreements that are usually 5 to 10 years in duration, depending upon the types of practices to be installed. Interested landowners may enter into cost-share agreements at any time.
For more information visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/whip
New York City Watershed Agricultural Program
Since 1990, GCSWCD has been an active partner in the Watershed Agricultural Program which was developed in response to proposed rules and regulations for the New York City upstate reservoirs. Assessments of the initial draft regulations indicated they would have a devastating effect on agriculture in the watershed, with up to 75% of the farm land rendered unusable or severely restricted if the regulations were adopted.
As the result of an educational campaign by local, state, and federal agencies with a long tradition of providing technical assistance to farmers, New York City was shown that agriculture is a preferred land use in the watershed. By enacting severe regulations which would have driven farmers from business, it was expected that agricultural lands would quickly be sold for other uses less compatible with the protection of water quality. The Watershed Agricultural Program was developed to provide technical assistance and funding for farm Best Management Practices within the NYC Watershed.
The program is operated by the Watershed Agricultural Council, which is a not-for-profit corporation consisting of active farmers in the watershed. The WAC sub-contracts with Natural Resources Conservation Service, Cooperative Extension and local Soil & Water Conservation Districts to provide the technical assistance required for a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary farm planning team which develops a Whole Farm Plan tailored for each individual farm.
For additional information on the Watershed Agricultural Program visit the Watershed Agricultural Council website: nycwatershed.org.