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NYS: Nearly $15 million to support water quality conservation projects


Tue, Mar 16th 2021 02:10 pm

Funding provided for 147 agricultural projects that help farmers across the state address water quality challenges in priority watersheds

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced nearly $15 million has been awarded to support agricultural water quality conservation projects across the state, benefiting 147 farms. The funding is being provided through the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control program, which supports projects that address water quality challenges in priority watersheds and protect the environment.

"New York is committed to supporting projects that protect our natural resources and that help us further our ambitious clean energy and climate goals," Cuomo said. "New York's farmers are critical to helping us achieve these goals, while ensuring the future of agriculture. This program continues to help our farmers use cost-effective methods to protect our waterways so they can continue to produce some of the very best products in the world."

The 147 projects awarded to 26 Soil and Water Conservation Districts will support on-farm environmental planning and the implementation of best management practice systems to keep nutrients and other potential pollutants from entering waterways. BMPs include a variety of measures including, vegetative buffers along streams, cover crops, nutrient management through manure storage, and other conservation measures.

Round 26 of grants for the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program were awarded to:

  • North Country: $1,633,847 for 11 farms
  • Central New York: $1,976,058 for 33 farms
  • Finger Lakes: $4,016,319 for 52 farms
  • Western New York: $1,245,674 for five farms
  • Capital Region: $833,260 for three farms
  • Mohawk Valley: $1,102,361 for three farms
  • Southern Tier: $3,811,188 for 13 farms
  • Long Island: $341,625 for 27 farms

For a complete list of projects awarded, visit the Department of Agriculture and Markets website.

Over the past 25 years, New York has supported projects covering 500 separate watersheds across the state, including 1,300 manure storage projects to 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 50,000 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 famers combat climate change. Through round 26 of this program, approximately 38,000 acres of cover crop will be implemented, almost doubling our total cover crops implemented through the life of the program.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "I'm proud that agriculture is at the table in the work that the state is doing to combat climate change, which includes working to protect soil health and conserve water quality. From our participation in the agriculture and forestry advisory panel as part of the Climate Action Council to the programs we administer that help our farmers reduce their environmental footprint and leave the land better, the department is committed to its goals to help the state lead the nation in having the most aggressive clean energy agenda and to protect our most precious resources now and for the future."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "New York state's record investments in clean water continue to support important economic drivers like the agricultural industry as we work together to improve water quality and soil health and address contributors to climate change. This funding will help bolster our efforts across agencies and regions that protect watersheds and provide help for farmers to develop more sustainable operations."

Chairman of the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee Dale Stein said, "New York's farmers are committed to protecting our natural resources, from the soil we grow our crops in, to our community waterways. The agricultural community takes pride in its efforts to implement a range of best management practices, including cover crops, vegetative buffers, and nutrient management, among others, all of which have made an incredible impact in conserving water quality. The state's agricultural non-point source abatement and control program grants support those efforts and allow a greater number of farmers to put these measures into practice as we work to protect the environment."

Senate Agriculture Chair Michelle Hinchey said, "No one is closer to the earth than our farmers who work incredibly hard to safeguard our soil and water resources to produce the healthy, local foods we all depend on. As chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am thrilled that farmers across New York state will have access to this critical funding so that they can continue their vital work of feeding our communities while keeping our lands and waterways clean and safe for future generations."

Assembly Member Donna Lupardo, chair of the committee on agriculture, said, "Investing in water quality conservation efforts on farms is important to reaching the state's overall climate goals. Better water management and mitigation are the basis for more sustainable farming practices, creating healthier soil and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. New York's farmers have been important partners in addressing climate change and this latest round of grants will continue the progress they've made in protecting our environment."

The New York 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.

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