New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced the award of $20 million to implement water quality protection projects on 56 farms across the state, with the funding being provided through the first round of the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Waste Storage and Transfer System Program. The projects will allow livestock farms to better manage and store nutrients such as manure to protect groundwater and nearby waterways. This program is a part of the governor’s $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, which invests resources for drinking water, wastewater infrastructure, and other water quality protections statewide.
“Agriculture remains a key part of New York’s economy, and this funding will help farms in every corner of this state protect drinking water supplies and waterways, while also remaining competitive,” the governor said. “With this program, we are supporting New York’s economy and ensuring our essential natural resources are preserved for years to come.”
According to the news release, 61 waste storage and transfer systems will be installed on CAFO-permitted farms in 25 counties throughout the state, with the grants helping offset the cost of construction, site preparation, and best management practices. Funded projects also will help farmers meet the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s new environmental requirements announced in January 2017. The money is being provided to County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which applied on behalf of eligible farmers in the Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York Regions.
“The governor’s historic clean water initiative is critical to ensuring the quality and sustainability of our natural resources and our farms. We received more applications than we were able to fund through the first round of this program, which shows the strong commitment of our livestock operations to environmental stewardship. We look forward to releasing the second Request for Proposals in the coming year to benefit even more farms as they strive to maintain nutrient recycling year round,” said State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball.
“New York’s farmers are among our state’s strongest environmental stewards with a keen understanding of the critical role natural resources play in maintaining a safe and healthy environment,” added DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Governor Cuomo has established one of the nation’s most aggressive environmental agendas that prioritizes protecting water quality. These grants from the historic $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act will help our state’s hardworking farm families safeguard our water quality while ensuring the economic well-being of New York’s agricultural community.”
There are more than 500 CAFO farms in New York State, most of which are dairy farms with 300 or more cows. CAFOs can include other livestock operations such as beef, poultry, and equine farms that meet regulatory thresholds. Grant funding for the CAFO Waste Storage and Transfer System Program is available over three consecutive application rounds. The Department of Agriculture and Markets will launch a second and third application period for an additional $15 million in both 2018 and 2019.