Agricultural Cost Share Programs Available for Anne Arundel County Landowners
Cost share programs are available through state and federal agencies to help qualified landowners install conservation practices. These programs pay for a percentage of conservation practices which the landowner establishes and maintains. Funding sources are available through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
- Federal Cost Share Programs
Includes EQIP, AMA, CREP, CSP, ACEP, and Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)
- State Cost Share Programs
Includes Cover Crops, Manure Transport, Waste Storage Structures, Nutrient Management, etc.
Federal Agricultural Cost Share Programs
Farmers can sign up for USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service financial assistance programs throughout the year, but funding selections are made at specific times. Check with our office for sign up times for the following programs:
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
- Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA)
- Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
Learn more about these programs below and contact our office to learn more about the technical and financial assistance available to help you reach your conservation goals.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is among USDA’s most popular conservation programs. Through EQIP, NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to plan and install conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.
Qualifying landowners may receive cost-share payments of up to 50 percent and limited resource farmers and beginning farmers may be eligible for cost-shares up to 90 percent.
Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) was established in states where participation in the Federal Crop Insurance Program is historically low. In Maryland, AMA provides cost share assistance for farmers who voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by adopting conservation practices.
The program provides financial assistance of up to 75 percent of the cost of installing conservation practices which may include:
- Water management or irrigation structures
- Trees plantings for windbreaks or to improve water quality
- Production diversification to mitigate risk
- Resource conservation practices
- Soil erosion control
- Integrated pest management
- Transition to organic farming
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides technical and financial assistance to eligible landowners to address soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. CRP encourages landowners to convert highly erodible cropland and other environmentally sensitive areas to permanent cover, such as introduced native grassses, trees, filter strips, riparian forest buffers, wetlands, and shallow water habitats.
In Maryland, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) provides additional incentives for landowners to implement practices that will generate a positive impact on the Chesapeake Bay and wildlife habitats. CREP is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and utilizes NRCS to provide technical assistance to help landowners plan and implement CREP practices.
In exchange for farmers implementing these additional conservation practice, FSA provides an annual land rental payment plus cost-share of up to 50 percent of eligible costs to establish the practices. All CREP practices are eligible for a one-time bonus payment of $100 per acre and some may be eligible for additional bonus payments. The Maryland Department of Agriculture, through the MACS program, also offers additional cost-share for practices that will provide a significant benefit for water quality.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is for working lands. More than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land are enrolled in CSP across the United States.
Under CSP, participants are paid for conservation performance: the higher the operational performance, the higher their payment. Not only does this program enhance natural resources, it helps farmers improve their business operations as well.
CSP applicants are ranked in a competitive process to address priority resource concerns. Program participants are eligible for two types of payments:
- Annual payment for installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities.
- Supplemental payment for the adoption of resource-conserving crop rotations.
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. There are two components: Agricultural Land Easements and Wetlands Reserve Easements.
Under Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), working lands are protected from being converted into non-agricultural uses. NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent or more of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement based on the environmental significance that is protected.
The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) provides incentives for landowners to retire marginal agricultural land and convert it to habitat for fish and wildlife. Easement contracts and corresponding payments may vary based on the needs and concerns of the landowner.
The Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) is available to help stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies to enhance environmental quality in conjunction with agricultural production.
CIG enables NRCS to work with other public and private entities to accelerate technology transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches to address some of the most pressing natural resource concerns. The CIG is a competitive application process and requires a 50-50 match between the agency and the applicant.
Maryland State Agricultural Cost Share Programs
More than 25 conservation practices are currently eligible for funding through the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program (MACS). Through the Maryland Department of Agriculture, MACS provides grants to farmers to assist them in the installation and maintenance of best management practices that will prevent soil erosion, manage nutrients and safeguard water quality in streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.
Within this program, Cover Crops and Waste Storage Structures are among the most popular.
Maryland farmers can count on MACS for grants to plant cover crops this fall to build healthy soils and protect the Chesapeake Bay. It’s easy to understand why cover crops are so popular. Cover crops recycle nitrogen, reduce erosion, add valuable organic matter to the soil, and help protect fields from too much or too little rain. Thinking about adding cover crops to your planting rotation this year? Count on MACS to help you make it happen.
All Maryland farms that gross more than $2,500 or have more than 8,000 pounds of live animal weight are required by law to follow a nutrient management plan.
Nutrient management plans specify how much fertilizer, manure or other nutrient sources may be safely applied to crops to achieve yield and prevent excess nutrients from impacting waterways. These plans are available through certified specialists at the University of Maryland Extension or through certified private consultants. Farmers may also be certified by the Maryland Department of Agriculture to prepare his or her own plan.
The Manure Transport Program helps cover the cost of transporting manure to farms with low phosphorus fields or to alternative use facilities. Payments of up to $22.50 per ton are available to eligible farmers and manure brokers.
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