Thursday, July 25, 2024

Virginia Allocates Record $207 Million for Soil and Water Conservation

(Department of Conservation and Recreation)

RICHMOND — A record $207 million has been allocated to the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program (VACS) for fiscal year 2025.

According to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), “this historic level of funding provides farmers and producers with unprecedented support to adopt conservation practices designed to protect water quality throughout the commonwealth.”

The cost-share funding for fiscal 2025 is an $82.1 million increase over fiscal 2024’s previous record of $124.6 million, DCR noted.

The VACS program offers financial incentives for farmers to adopt best management practices aimed at reducing nutrient pollution, sediment and waste from entering waterways, DCR said. These voluntary practices can provide a long-term boost to an operation’s bottom line through increased productivity and reduced labor and input costs.

Farmers can receive up to $300,000 in state cost-share reimbursement for more than 60 best management practices, including:

  • Cover crops
  • Nutrient Management Plans
  • Forested or herbaceous buffers
  • Livestock stream-exclusion systems

“The previous two years’ historic levels of funding for soil and water conservation continues this year, increasing our support for the agriculture community and environmental stewardship,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Travis Voyles. “The VACS program is a testament to the administration’s commitment to meet our water quality goals while empowering farmers to voluntarily safeguard Virginia’s natural resources.”

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) administers the cost-share program in partnership with Virginia’s 47 soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs), allowing farmers to receive tailored technical assistance and funding opportunities that meet the specific needs of their operation.

“The VACS program is a vital resource for our farmers, providing the tools and financial support needed to implement effective conservation practices,” said DCR Director Matt Wells. “This record funding demonstrates our collective effort to promote cost-effective conservation practices while protecting Virginia’s natural resources. We will continue to collaborate with Virginia’s soil and water conservation districts and agricultural producers to ensure the success of this program.”

DCR said Virginia’s SWCDs work directly with farmers to distribute cost-share funding from the VACS program and provide technical assistance for its implementation.

“Virginia’s soil and water conservation districts are the central resource for state cost-share sign-up and practice implementation,” said Dr. Kendall Tyree, executive director of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Districts. “We commend the governor and the General Assembly for their unprecedented support of voluntary conservation initiatives and look forward to continuing to assist Virginia’s agricultural community through our district offices.”

Farmers interested in applying for funding should contact their local SWCDs. A map of local conservation districts and contact information can be found at dcr.virginia.gov/soil-and-water/swcds.

The 2025 fiscal year began on July 1.

Related Articles

MORE FROM AUTHOR