Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy
Pennsylvania's Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy is a state-wide plan adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection to reduce our state's impacts on water quality in the Bay through reductions in nitrates, phosphates, and sediment delivered by streams and rivers flowing to the Bay. In each Pennsylvania county within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, conservation districts have designed and are implementing County Implementation Plans, locally selected best management practices and other programs that target locally identified problems. In Bedford County, sediment pollution is the priority pollutant that the Conservation District has elected to target. Conservation tillage and cover crops are the primary practices the District promotes and this focus within the Chesapeake Bay Program complements other Conservation Districts efforts.
County Implementation Plans are updated annually, along with the complementary Special Projects Funding requests submitted by Conservation Districts. In Bedford County, Special Projects Funding has been used for cover crop and no-till corn incentive payments, for cover crop seed cost-sharing, for construction of stabilized stream crossings and stream bank fencing, for no-till equipment purchases, and for water quality monitoring.
Park the Plow
The Park The Plow for Profit Program promotes continuous no-till crop management, addressing factors that lead to reluctance among some producers to adopt conservation tillage practices, targeting watersheds with stream impairments due to agricultural nutrients and sediments, and providing incentives to encourage no-till and cover crop practices. The Capital Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council administers the grant that funds this effort in Bedford County and several other counties. Partnering with Capital RC&D and the Bedford County Conservation District in bringing the program to county farmers are the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and Penn State Cooperative Extension and private service providers.
The Park the Plow program has been working to address barriers by providing technical assistance through both public agencies and private service providers, working with the individual farmer in developing a "transition plan" for farm acres enrolled in the program. Decisions about crop varieties, manure and fertilizer application, pest control tactics, crop rotations and use of cover crops are all part of the no-till management system, and are therefore part of the program's individual planning process. The advent of the statewide Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program has also helped to increase interest in no-till planting by providing tax credits for upgraded or new equipment to operators converting to no-till. Park the Plow has expanded efforts to bring new "tools" to participating farmers, such as paying for equipment maintenance and cover crop seed annually as well as providing farmers with networking and training opportunities. In addition, the Capital Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area Council, administrators of the project, are working with local partners to provide nutrient credit trading to interested landowners. Farm operation inventory assessments are conducted verifying baseline compliance and phosphorous and sediment calculations calculated for nutrient trading.
The Park the Plow Program practices, activities, and goals are complementary to the Conservation District's efforts within the Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy Program. There is an open sign-up period for farmers interested in applying for enrollment in the Park The Plow Program.
District personnel review nutrient management plans that are written by certified individuals from private industry, certified landowners, and district personnel from other counties. These plans are reviewed by certified staff to make sure they meet the requirements of The Pennsylvania Nutrient Management Law, recently updated to include phosphorous. Staff presents reviewed plans to the District's Nutrient Management Committee who then recommend plans for the approval of the Conservation District Board.
District personnel also review nutrient plans and nutrient balance sheets developed for importing farms. This planning process is required for farms importing manure from CAOs in the county as well as those importing manure from farms across the state.
Annual status reviews are conducted on the counties CAO farms and nutrient management grant recipients each year. These status reviews insure that these operations maintain compiance with evolving regualtions and help to avoid problems developing.
District staff also conducted biosolids field compliance checks. Seven sites were visited and checked to make sure that the municipality or septic tank service is hauling and spreading the sludge material in accordance to DEP regulations. The Conservation District's responsibility is to confirm that the sites have a conservation plan implemented and are in compliance.
Link to new manure management manual CLICK HERE
The Bedford County Agricultural Land Preservation Board administers a farmland preservation program for purchasing and accepting donations of agricultural conservation easements to preserve the most productive soils in Bedford County. The Conservation District assists the Bedford County Agricultural Land Preservation Board with Level I services by providing nutrient planning, conservation planning assistance and evaluate growth and best management practice installation. In addition, the District schedules and conducts annual field reviews of each easement. The district promotes efforts to support the growth and existing agricultural communities through program promotion and outreach. For additional information about the Farmland Preservation Program please contact the Bedford County Planning Commission at 814-623-4827 or visit the Planning Commission pages at the Bedford County website listed under External Links at left.
The district also assists the Bedford County Planning Commission in develolping and updating a centralized Agricultural Security database. This GIS (Geopgraphic Information System) database maps all of the properties in the county that have enrolled their property as an Agricultural Security Area through their township.
Equipment Rental Program
The Conservation Distrcit maintains a variety of no-till corn planters, drills, lime spreaders, etc. that are used in promoting no-till management and in assisting county farmers in transitioning to no-till, in renovating pastures, and improving soil quality. Information about the no-till equipment available to rent can be found by clicking on the Equipment Rental link. For information about availability and rates for the equipment, call Cody Waltemire at 814-623-7900, ext. 128.
Act 55 of 2007 created the Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP). REAP allows farmers and businesses to earn Pennsylvania state tax credits in exchange for implementing “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) on agricultural operations that will enhance farm production and protect natural resources. The program is administered by the State Conservation Commission (Commission) and the tax credits will be granted by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.Eligible applicants may receive between 50% and 75% of project costs as state tax credits for up to $150,000 per agricultural operation. The amount of tax credit available to a recipient is dependent on the type of BMP implemented. Any individual or business who is subject to taxation by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under the following state taxes is eligible to participate in REAP: Personal Income Tax, Corporate Net Income Tax, Capital Stock and Franchise Tax, Bank Shares Tax, Title Insurance Company Tax, Insurance Premiums Tax, and Mutual Thrift Institutions Tax. Agricultural operations must have a current conservation plan (or a current agricultural erosion and sedimentation control plan (Ag E&S plan)), at a minimum a Manure Management Plan or a REAP Manure Management Summary, if there is livestock or poultry on the farm or if manure is utilized; or an ACT 38 nutrient management plan, if one is required. The cost of developing and implementing these plans may be included as part of an application to qualify for the tax credit. All required plans must meet standards and criteria as established by the Commission. An agricultural operation with an animal concentration area (ACA) must have implemented the Best Management Practices (BMPs) to control storm water runoff, loss of sediment and nutrients and runoff of other pollutants from the animal concentration area, or the implementation of these BMPs must be included in the application for a tax credit. An agricultural operation with uncompleted BMPs contained in either an Ag E&S plan or a nutrient or manure management plan must first include the remaining BMPs required in these plans in the application for a tax credit. Tax credits for equipment or other non-required BMPs will not be awarded until the required BMPs are complete.
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