Two farms in Montgomery County are in for some environmental upgrades thanks to state grant money.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Tuesday released a list of recipients set to split $12.2 million from New York’s Environmental Protection Fund.
The grants are meant to assist farmers in protecting streams and rivers from agricultural runoff.
“Well-managed farms are an integral part of New York’s economy and landscape,” Cuomo said. “Through this program, we are supporting farms across the state to put in place best practices when it comes to protecting water quality in their areas while ensuring the continued production of fresh, local food. Not only will these projects improve the environment, they will also help stimulate economic activity in the communities.”
Montgomery County’s Soil & Water Conservation District is one of 27 named in the release, and District Manager Corey Nellis has big plans for the money. As soon as contracts clear the various layers of government, he said his agency will use the $406,842 it’s getting from the state to make two local farms gentler on the environment.
The first is a small dairy farm in Canajoharie. Currently, Nellis said, when cows aren’t in the barn, they’re tromping around in a muddy lot along a small tributary to the Canajoharie Creek.
“There’s no water quality measures,” he said, describing how rain washes manure right into the creek.
Roughly half of the new funding will be used to build a low crib on a concrete slab to store manure, and placing a larger roofed slab with low walls and roof over the muddy lot to cover it. The harder surface and low walls will prevent all the excrement from flowing downstream and degrading water quality.
The remainder is earmarked for an Amish farm in the town of Root. The farmer, Nellis said, requested help converting some of his crop land into pasture for his small dairy herd.
“Grazing land is nicer to the environment than something like corn,” he said. “There’s less erosion. More nutrients stay in the ground.”
Both farmers are required to match 25 percent of the government funding. Realistically, the money will come through some time in 2014, though Nellis said recipients have been known to borrow against their grants to speed up the process.
“Farmers are great stewards of the land they depend on for their livelihood.” Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens said in a statement. “They understand the need for clean water and soil conservation on a very personal level. The grants ... will help keep farms and working landscapes profitable, while furthering our mutual interest in a better environment for future generations.”