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State funds available to improve farm land

State funds available to improve farm land

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Have you been pondering ways to improve the natural resources on your farm? Are your livestock drinking from a stream? Is there erosion occurring from your crop field? Are you interested in a winter cover on a crop field? Would you like to convert a crop field into permanent grass?

The Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District office (MSWCD) has funds through the Virginia General Assembly for these types of best management practices (BMPs) and more on your farm. The program that offers these funds is called the Virginia Agricultural Cost Share Program (VACS). Monacan administers the VACS program for Goochland and Powhatan Counties. The practices within the program are designed to reduce agricultural pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.

There are 47 SWCDs that cover the counties of Virginia. Visit vaswcd.org for more information about them.

There are eligibility requirements for the VACS program. Agricultural land is defined as “land being used in a BONA FIDE program of agricultural management and engaged in the production of agricultural, horticultural or forest products for market.”

The real estate must consist of a minimum of five contiguous acres and have verifiable gross receipts in excess of $1,000 per year from the production or sale of agricultural, horticultural or forest products produced on the applicant’s agricultural land for each of the past five years.

If you would like to view the VACS manual and preview any of the 57 best management practice specifications, it can be found at http://consapps.dcr.virginia.gov/htdocs/agbmpman/agbmptoc.htm.

Monacan provided funding for the following this past fiscal year: a poultry waste control and composter facility; over 3,000 acres of cover crops; 160 acres of permanent grass; 5,500 acres of nutrient management; and over 9 miles of streambank excluded from 658 cattle creating 48 acres of 35-foot riparian (creek) buffers.

If you are considering farm land and/or water quality improvement, please call MSWCD. The Monacan office is located in the Historic Central High School Building at 2748 Dogtown Rd. in Goochland, and can be reached at (804)556-4936. Cover crop applications are due by Aug. 27.

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