HARRISBURG – State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) this week joined Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding to announce the first round of funding under the new $154 million Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP).
Yaw, who along with Sens. Scott Martin and Dan Laughlin, sponsored the Clean Streams Fund legislation, which created the ACAP program, visited Matthew and Samantha Stahlnecker’s Lycoming County farm to make the announcement.
“We are at a critical juncture in cleaning up Pennsylvania’s waters, and we are making progress,” Sen. Yaw said. “This important program provides a roadmap to meeting our goals of reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment from our waterways.”
Lycoming County is receiving $1.9 million in ACAP funds based on a formula that considers number of farms, number of livestock operations, and number of impaired stream miles. The Stahlneckers plan to apply for the program to boost conservation measures on their farm.
“As young farmers, the Stahlneckers have demonstrated their care for the water and land,” Secretary Redding said. “It’s our goal to honor their stewardship, and the stewardship of other PA farmers by investing ACAP funds in the future of their farm and the future of Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Fund was created with $220 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and funds conservation programs including ACAP, designed to share the costs to farmers for farm management practices that reduce sediment in waterways, keeping the nutrients out of waterways, and on the farm to build soil health.
Funding will help provide site design and engineering support for measures like concrete barnyards, heavy-use area protection, manure storage, and expertise to institute agronomic or ecological practices like cover crops, planted streamside buffers, stream-bank fencing, and grazing systems – the best management practices, or “BMPs” proven to conserve water and soil resources and farm productivity.
ACAP funding, administered by the State Conservation Commission (SCC) is part of a coordinated package of state conservation initiatives, grants, loans, and tax incentives that leverage Pennsylvania’s long-standing partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Conservation Districts.
Funds must be committed by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026. In order to meet this aggressive timeline, the State Conservation Commission is partnering with Penn State University and USDA’s NRCS to create a technical assistance center that will provide necessary engineering and design support.
To apply or find detailed information on the Agriculture Conservation Assistance Program, as well as more State Conservation Commission programs and investments in the future of Pennsylvania farms at agriculture.pa.gov.
For more state-related news and information, visit Senator Yaw’s website, Facebook and Twitter.