Cost Share Programs

There are many different State and Federal cost share assistance programs available to help farmers install best management practices (BMPs) to improve water quality on their farms.  All of these cost share programs will require District assistance to determine eligibility, complete and submit applications, and to provide the technical assistance to install the BMPs and certify completion.  Below is a partial list of eligible cost share programs available in St. Mary’s County.  For more information please contact a conservation/engineering technician.

State Cost Share Programs
MACSThe Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program provides farmers with grants to cover up to 87.5 percent of the cost to install conservation measures known as best management practices (BMPs) on their farms to prevent soil erosion, manage nutrients and safeguard water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Grassed waterways  planted to prevent gully erosion in farm fields, streamside buffers of grasses and trees planted to filter sediment and farm runoff, and animal waste management systems constructed to help farmers safely handle and store manure resources are among more than 30 BMPs currently eligible for MACS grants.
Cover CropCover Crop 2To help offset seed, labor and equipment costs associated with planting cover corps, the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program provides farmers with grants to plant small grains and brassicas on their fields immediately following the summer crop harvest. MACS offers a traditional cover crop program, which does not allow harvest, and a commodity program for farmers who want to harvest their cover crops. Cover crops sign-up is held in early summer at soil conservation district (SCD) offices. Cost-share rates vary from year to year, however, in recent years harvested cover crops paid an average rate of $25/acre while traditional cover crops ranged from $45/acre to $100/acre. MDA provides cover crop farmers with field signs to place on their properties.
CREPThe Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a federal-state partnership that pays top dollar to landowners who agree to take environmentally sensitive cropland out of production for 10 to 15 years and plant streamside buffers, establish wetlands, protect highly erodible lands or create wildlife habitat while providing steady, dependable land rental income. This completely voluntary program offers a one time signing bonus of up to $250 an acre, attractive annual rental and incentive payments, cost-share assistance for streamside buffers, wetlands, livestock fencing and more. Plus CREP buffers meet all Maryland Nutrient Management Program setback requirements. Interested farmers should contact their soil conservation district or Farm Service Agency to sign up for CREP.
Manure TransportManure Transport Cost ShareThis program helps poultry, dairy, beef and other animal producers cover the costs of transporting excess manure off their farms. Animal producers with high soil phosphorus levels or inadequate land to spread their manure can receive cost-share assistance of up to $20 per ton to transport excess manure to other farms or alterative use facilities that can use the product safely. To support Maryland’s goal of transporting 20 percent of the poultry litter produced on the Lower Eastern Shore to other regions, cost-share rates are 20 percent higher for farms located in Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico or Worcester counties. Farmers should call or visit their soil conservation district to enroll in this program.


Federal Cost Share Programs
EQIPEQIP PracticeEQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.
ACEPThe Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.
CRPThe Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.
CSPThe Conservation Stewardship Program helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance—the higher the performance, the higher the payment
RCPPRCPPThe Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. NRCS provides assistance to producers through partnership agreements and through program contracts or easement agreements. RCPP combines the authorities of four former conservation programs – the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Great Lakes Basin Program. Assistance is delivered in accordance with the rules of EQIP, CSP, ACEP and HFRP; and in certain areas the Watershed Operations and Flood Prevention Program.