Sign-ups under way for cost-share program

Published 7:07 pm Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services started sign-ups for its cost-share program this week.
The North Carolina Agriculture Cost Share Program has been around for more than 20 years, said Ann Williams, administrative assistant at the Beaufort County Soil and Water Conservation District.
“I’d say it’s been very successful,” she said.
The program offers incentives to farmers to initiate practices that would improve water quality. The practices help decrease the amount of sediment and nutrients entering surface waters and groundwater.
“And it’s not just chemicals, it would be your erosion factors, also,” Williams said.
The options include three-year conservation tillage, long-term no-till (a five-year commitment), cover crops, precision nutrient management, water-control structures, animal-waste management, incinerators for dead animal disposal and lagoon closures.
Anthony Hester, Beaufort County’s district resource specialist, said each of those practices comes with an annual payment.
“As an example, on the three-year conservation tillage, there is a one-time payment of $60 an acre up to 125 acres,” he said. “All practices are monitored to make sure they are sticking to the guidelines.”
Sign-up began Monday and will continue through Jan. 17, 2014. Hester said it is best to act quickly because the local program usually runs out of funds.
“We received $44,674 to be spent this year. This money comes from the commission, and it asks us to submit a strategy plan each year to include the money we’re asking for,” Hester said. “Most years, we do run out of money.”
The district signs up about a dozen farmers a year. The number of participants has decreased over the years as the funds available have decreased. The amount received by each participant depends on the option the landowner chooses. The district’s board ranks the options according to what would most benefit the area, and the payment schedule is applied accordingly.
To apply for cost share assistance, landowners/operators can stop by the Soil and Water Conservation District’s office located at 155C Airport Road in Washington. Hester will help with the application process and even visit the land to determine the best option.
For additional cost share information, call 946-4989, ext. 3.