USDA Partners with New York State, Producers, to Improve Chesapeake Bay Water Quality

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making additional funding available to eligible New York state producers within the Chesapeake Bay watershed to undertake certain conservation practices that improve water quality in the bay. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide up to $1 million in incentives, coupled with state matching funds of $200,000 to enroll or re-enroll land devoted to riparian buffers. A riparian buffer is an area of trees and shrubs located adjacent to streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands.

USDA Partners with New York State, Producers, to Improve Chesapeake Bay Water Quality

Contact:
Kent Politsch
(202)720-7163

Up to $1.2 Million in New Incentives for Eligible Producers; Expected Enrollment of 2,666 Additional Acres for Bay Conservation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making additional funding available to eligible New York state producers within the Chesapeake Bay watershed to undertake certain conservation practices that improve water quality in the bay. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide up to $1 million in incentives, coupled with state matching funds of $200,000 to enroll or re-enroll land devoted to riparian buffers. A riparian buffer is an area of trees and shrubs located adjacent to streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands.

Earlier this year, USDA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation signed a revised agreement that will provide eligible producers an additional one-time incentive payment of $250 to $375 per acre for enrolling certain land within the Chesapeake Bay watershed as a riparian buffer. The additional incentive, part of the revised New York State Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), is based on the length of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract offered. In addition, with the funds provided by New York, eligible producers will receive an additional one-time incentive payment of up to 15 times the base soil rental rate to install a riparian buffer on certain newly enrolled land within the watershed. The additional incentive is based on the type of land offered and the average width of the riparian buffer.

In addition to the new incentive, FSA provides eligible producers an annual per-acre incentive equal to 145 percent of the base soil rental rate, a one-time signing incentive of $100 per acre, cost-share assistance up to 50 percent of the cost to install the practice and a practice incentive payment equal to 40 percent of the cost to install the practice. The state may provide competitive grants to local soil and water conservation districts to provide as cost-share assistance to install the practice.

USDA and New York are partners in implementing a CREP throughout the 12 major watersheds of the state, including the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The additional incentives, announced today, are expected to enroll an additional 2,666 acres of riparian buffers to improve water quality in Chesapeake Bay. The existing CREP has 11,700 acres currently enrolled, of which over 4,000 acres are riparian buffers.

"This is an excellent example of how Chesapeake Bay stakeholders are working together to strengthen the environmental health of this important watershed," said New York Farm Service Agency State Executive Director James Barber.

For a quarter century, USDA has worked with the six bay states (New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia) to improve and restore the Chesapeake Bay, with more than 7,000 miles of riparian buffers established by private landowners across the bay states. In 2013, the CREP's buffers intercepted an estimated eight million tons of sediment, 16 million pounds of nitrogen and four million pounds of phosphorus in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In 2014, USDA pledged up to $5 million to state and local partnerships in states, including New York, for accelerating tree planting along the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

USDA and the State of New York are partners in implementing CREP to enroll up to 40,000 acres of agricultural land in Albany, Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Erie, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orange, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Westchester, Wyoming and Yates counties.

Through the New York 12 Watersheds CREP, federal and state resources are made available to program participants to voluntarily enroll in CRP for a minimum of 10-year, not to exceed 15-year, contracts. Signup is on a continuous basis. To be eligible, land must be located in the project area and be either cropland or marginal pastureland. Cropland must meet cropping history criteria and be physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity. Marginal pastureland is also eligible for enrollment provided it is suitable for use as a buffer practice.

CRP, a voluntary program re-authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, builds on historic economic gains in rural America while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for U.S. taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. To learn more visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp. To find an FSA office near you, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. USDA has also provided $5.6 billion of disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. USDA has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; extending new conservation opportunities; offering appropriate risk management tools; and increasing our outreach, education and technical support including 102,000 direct and guaranteed farm operating and ownership loans. USDA has also provided more than 18,000 microloans totaling over $406 million since the program began in January 2013. Nearly 89 percent of microloans, or more than $363 million, were used by new, beginning and underserved farmers to grow their farming operations. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.