By Mary Montour, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
As your grazing season comes to a close this fall, this is a great time to take inventory of your pasture health, livestock grazing system, what worked well, what didn’t work well, and explore grant funding opportunities to enhance your grazing system for next season!
The Agency’s Pasture and Surface Water Fencing (PSWF) Grant Program provides pasture management technical assistance and financial assistance to Vermont farmers. Projects that include the exclusion and protection of surface water are the main focus of the PSWF Program, but the program can help eligible operations start or improve their rotational grazing practices even if there isn't directly an adjacent surface water. Grants typically can reimburse up to 90% of eligible project costs up to $10,000 for projects that do not include fencing livestock out of surface water and up to $15,000 for projects that do include fencing out of surface waters. Eligible practices include fencing, watering facilities, watering pipelines, electric fence chargers, stream crossings, laneways, labor or contracting costs to install the practices and more.
To be eligible, you must be a farm required to comply with the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) and have ownership, lease, or management control of the project land for 10 years. Priority is given to farms that have at least 4 acres for the raising, feeding and management of at least five cattle or cows, 15 goats or sheep, four equine, or three camelids and where projects will provide a water quality benefit.
Additionally, the fall months are the time to start planning next year’s projects to apply for grant funding opportunities through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Program. Learn more about technical and financial assistance available to grazing farmers on the USDA NRCS VT website: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/vt/programs/ . Act now – NRCS deadlines are coming up!
Polywire installation creating multiple paddocks to enhance a rotational grazing system.