By Sonia Howlett, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
The Agency’s Farm Agronomic Practices (FAP) Program invests state funds in soil-based agronomic practices to improve soil quality, increase crop production, and reduce erosion and surface runoff from agricultural fields. Grant applications are currently open for spring conservation practices planned to be installed prior to June 30, 2022, such as manure injection ($25/acre), conservation tillage ($12/ac), and rotation of cropland into hay ($30/ac, or $45/ac if a nurse crop is used). Funding is limited and available on a first-come-first-served basis, so apply now!
There is a maximum annual funding cap of $8,000 per farm operation from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. If your farm operation has received the $8000 cap for fall 2021 cover cropping, then the operation is not eligible to receive any additional spring 2022 FAP payments. Applications are due at least 30 days prior to implementation for all spring conservation practices. We recommend that farmers plan as far ahead as possible for implementation of agronomic practices, especially when seeking financial assistance.
Additional financial assistance for conservation practices are also available through the federal USDA-NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). EQIP consistently provides higher payment rates per acre of conservation practice, so we encourage farms to apply to EQIP before FAP, if feasible.
Farm operations that meet the threshold for the Required Agricultural Practices and are in good standing with water quality regulations are eligible to apply for the specific practice or practices that they intend to implement. However, farms are ineligible for duplicative payments: farms cannot apply for or receive FAP payment for the same conservation practice(s) on the same field(s) funded under another state or federal agreement.
For more information on the FAP program, the payment rates for each practice type, and to apply online, go to http://agriculture.vermont.gov/fap.
If you have specific questions about practice eligibility, or how the FAP program works, you can contact Sonia Howlett at 802.522.4655.
Caption: Reduced tillage planting systems reduce soil disturbance, improve organic matter, and help reduce nutrient runoff from agricultural fields.