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Virginia Agricultural Incentives

Agricultural Cost-Share and Tax Credit Programs

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The need

Reductions in nonpoint source (NPS) pollution can be attained by reducing activities that produce NPS pollutants, reducing the amount of pollutants generated by an existing activity and reducing the negative effects these pollutants can have by controlling their dispersal. To that end, NPS best management practices (BMPs) are important tools in controlling NPS pollution its impact on the environment.

While there are many sources of NPS pollution, agriculture is among the most significant in Virginia because many acres here are devoted to farming. For example, one EPA study estimates that 27 percent of the phosphorus and 60 percent of the nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay originate from cropland. These pollutants need to be controlled to protect the environment.

Solutions

DCR administers programs through local soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) to improve or maintain water quality in the state's streams, lakes and bays through the installation or implementation of agricultural BMPs:

Through these programs, financial and technical assistance are offered as incentives to carry out construction or implementation of selected BMPs. DCR's process for allocating funds to SWCDs is outlined in Policy and Procedures - Cost-Share and Technical Assistance Funding Allocations, which is updated annually.

Details on the BMPs that apply to both programs can be found in the Virginia Agricultural BMP Cost Share Manual. This manual is updated annually.

Funding varies by SWCD each year. The state provides funds to SWCDs for targeted priority hydrologic units. Areas with the greatest pollution potential receive the greatest funding.

Assistance is available year-round to those willing to carry out an approved conservation plan. The business of farming requires as much planning and organization as any other. Strategies to protect surface and ground water should be included in those plans. Many plans qualify but all must be approved by the local district board to participate in these programs. SWCDs seek and recruit individuals whose efforts can make the greatest positive impact upon water quality.

What do I do now?

Need help with your conservation plan? The place to begin is your local soil and water conservation district. It will always help a landowner willing to support Virginia s efforts to protect water quality.

If you're an SWCD employee in need of cost-share program training, please visit DCR's training page.

Do you want financial assistance with your conservation efforts? If so, contact your local SWCD for a cost-share application form and/or tax credit assistance for the practices needed to implement your conservation plan. The district board must then approve the request.

Other agencies that offer assistance include the USDA Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Virginia Department of Forestry. More information is also available from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, 804-786-2064.