NY Agriculture Program Puts $13M Toward Runoff Control

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker on Feb. 22 announced that $13 million will be used for 46 projects designed to will help farmers protect New York's lakes, streams, and rivers from agricultural runoff.

This assistance is awarded through the New York State Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program, which serves as a vital component of the state's Agricultural Environmental Management program and is funded through the Environmental Protection Fund.

"Investing in our farms is a smart use of resources, not only for the Upstate economy, but for the environment as well," Hooker said. "While farmers utilize a quarter of the state's total land mass, it is imperative that the state help make compliance with strict federal environmental regulations financially feasible. These grants are instrumental in ensuring that effective conservation practices are implemented on farms in order to safeguard essential soil and water resources for all New Yorkers to enjoy."

The nonpoint source program is administered by the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee and the State Department of Agriculture and Markets. It awards competitive grants to county Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Eligible program projects include those that develop comprehensive nutrient management plans  or implement best management practices to protect water quality while maintaining the economic viability of New York's diverse agricultural community. Examples of projects include grazing systems to prevent soil erosion, vegetative buffers along streams to filter runoff, and nutrient management systems for watershed protection.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said, "Farms are an integral part of New York's economy, landscape, and culture. These grants will help offset the costs of important stewardship practices that allow farmers to limit the often significant polluted runoff associated with certain agricultural land uses. This program is a significant boost to the state's efforts to help ensure both the viability of farming and the preservation of water quality."

Indiana OKs Compact to Extend Great Lakes Protection

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Feb. 20 signed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, SEA 45.

The compact was developed over five years with representatives of business, industry, agriculture, environmental and other interests, as well as state officials. Governors of eight states -- New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana -- reached agreement on the compact late in 2005. The eight states also reached a similar agreement with Ontario and Quebec in 2005.

The compact ensures that

• authority over Great Lakes water uses stays in the region;

• economic development will be fostered through sustainable use and responsible management of the waters;

• states will development regional goals and objectives for water conservation and efficiency and collect and share technical data to improve decision-making;

• the public will be involved in implementation of the compact.

The state legislatures in each state must approve the compact and enact implementation language, and Congress must give its consent.

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