The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is trying to get the word out to farmers and landowners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed’s 43 counties. Fees paid for having manure or nutrient management plans and ag erosion control plans developed can be reimbursed.
“We know it can be a challenge, especially for small operations, to afford fees for technical help on plans for pollutant reduction in local streams and rivers,” says DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Through reimbursements, our Agricultural Plan Reimbursement Program will cover the cost of preparation of at least 800 and as many as 2,200 plans.”
In brief, three types of plans developed after Jan. 1, 2017 may be eligible for reimbursement:
• Required manure management plans and agriculture erosion and sediment control plans
• Required Act 38 nutrient management plans
• Required conservation plans that are used in place of Ag E&S
You may qualify for reimbursement for more than one plan. But plans developed by Natural Resources Conservation Service using NRCS funding or for REAP tax credit aren’t eligible.
First, you’ll need to register by April 1 to select a plan or plans for reimbursement. Then you’ll need to submit necessary information for reimbursement by May 30.
State regulations require all farmers to implement manure management, nutrient management, or agriculture erosion and sediment control plans. In some cases, farmers will be required to implement more than one of these plans. This is a key component of Pennsylvania’s effort to meet its EPA-mandated water pollution reduction targets for the Chesapeake Bay.
How and where to apply
Consultants are coordinating the reimbursement program, conducting extensive outreach to farmers and supplying potential options for farmers who are seeking technical experts.
Farmers in Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Elk, Jefferson, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Tioga, Wayne and Wyoming counties should contact: Sara Bolton, Larson Design Group, Inc., email@example.com, 570-374-5700, 1000 Commerce Park Drive, Williamsport, Pa.
In Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Cambria, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Somerset and York counties, farmers should contact: Jedd Moncavage, TeamAg Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-721-6795, 120 Lake St., Ephrata, Pa.
Act 38 Q&A
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the agricultural planning reimbursement program:
Are Act 38 nutrient management plans eligible?
Yes. All act 38 NMPs are eligible. New plans, amendments and crop year updates are eligible as long as they were submitted on or after Jan. 1, 2017. Because they’ve already been reviewed and approved, a copy of the Act 38 approval letter and paid invoice are all that’s needed for reimbursement for NMPs.
Are plans written by conservation district, for which a fee was paid, eligible for the program?
Yes, as long as there’s a proof of payment such as an invoice or receipt.
Are plans developed or reviewed as a result of an inspection eligible for reimbursement?
Yes, as long as the plan was developed after Jan. 1, 2017. If the plan was developed or reviewed by the county conservation district or DEP regional office, you only need to provide proof of compliance/completeness/approval and a paid invoice or receipt for reimbursement.
If I received money for plans from another cost sharing program can I apply for this program?
Can large farms break down Ag E&S/Conservation planning into multiple plans to be reimbursed individually?
Yes. Ag E&S Plans/Conservation Plans may be developed separately, specifically for those operations with multiple tracts and multiple landowners, as the landowner and operator are jointly responsible to have and implement the plan. The farmer will be reimbursed based on the calculations of $500 for the first 50 acres plus $10 per acre above 50 acres, with a maximum of $1,500 per plan or whatever he paid for the plan, whichever is less.
If a farm has Ag E&S Plans on most of their tracts, but needs them on a few newer tracts, can the program be used on just the newer tracts?
Yes. The program can be used just for the newer tracts, as long as the existing plans still meet the requirements of Chapter 102.
If a farm has a manure management plan but needs to update it for new ground or new manure sources, can the program be used to update existing MMPs?
Yes. The program can be used to update existing plans if the existing plans no longer accurately reflect the management or scope of the operation, or do not meet the requirements of Chapter 91.
Can the reimbursement be assigned directly to the consultant or plan writer?
No. The payment must be distributed to the farmer.
Can consultants or plan writers, other than Team Ag and Larson Design, develop plans for reimbursement under this program?
Yes. While both Team Ag and Larson Design may develop plans for farmers, they’ve been contracted to review plans submitted for reimbursement to ensure the plans are administratively complete.
Source: Pennsylvania DEP