Governor Ralph Northam announced the availability of $73 million to protect water and soil health through the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program, which represents the largest-ever investment of state funding to assist farmers implementing conservation practices. The program has been updated to provide greater flexibility and reduce barriers to farmer participation.
“This historic investment is exactly the type of commitment we need to ensure more producers can participate in the Commonwealth’s cost-share program to implement conservation practices and continue improving water quality in Virginia,” said Governor Northam. “Whether growing crops, raising cattle, or producing poultry, agricultural best management practices are important tools that can benefit Virginia farms while also helping keep pollution out of our streams and the Chesapeake Bay.”
The cost-share program is a partnership between the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Virginia’s 47 soil and water conservation districts. Individuals, partnerships, trusts, and other businesses operating farms in Virginia may qualify for cost-share assistance. The program year runs July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.
Producers may visit their local district office for information and to apply. Applications are first-come, first-served.
“Priority practices, such as fencing to keep cattle out of streams, animal-waste storage and transport, and riparian buffers, have clear benefits for water quality and the farmer’s bottom line,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Implementation of these practices is necessary for Virginia to achieve the Chesapeake Bay restoration goals laid out in the upcoming Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan.”
“Simply put, now is the time to apply for state cost-share funds,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I encourage producers who have never participated before to visit their local soil and water conservation district and learn what is different this year. We have worked hard to ensure that they will find a more flexible, streamlined program tailored to their needs.”
More information can be found on the program website.