Report Outlines Environmental Benefits of REAP Conservation Program

June 10, 2009

Guidelines and Applications Now Available for 09-10 Tax Credit Program

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Pennsylvania farmers are making further investments in the environment by implementing on-farm conservation practices while enhancing their farm’s production, thanks to the Resource Enhancement and Protection tax credit program, or REAP.

Pennsylvania farmers are charged with protecting our soils and water supply by being good stewards of the land,” said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff. “REAP provides an additional resource for farmers to adopt conservation practices to do just that, while maintaining viable businesses that play an integral role in our state’s economy.”

REAP encourages farmers to use conservation best management practices to reduce erosion and sedimentation impacting Pennsylvania’s streams and watersheds. The program has proven to be an effective tool to reduce sediment and nutrient – specifically, phosphorous and nitrogen – runoff from their farms. Excess nutrients that exceed a waterway’s absorption capacity become pollutants that destroy aquatic and plant life.

In the first round of REAP funding, almost half the credits approved for eligible projects were for no-till planting equipment. Other best management practices that received a high percentage of approved credits were for waste storage facilities, and for protecting heavy animal use areas such as barnyards.

Using the Chesapeake Bay Program Model it is possible to estimate benefits related to certain best management practices. Thanks to REAP, no-till equipment purchases alone have reduced sediment runoff into Pennsylvania waterways by more than 18,000 tons, and other practices have helped eliminate hundreds of thousands of pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment.

Applications for the 2009-2010 program will be accepted by the commission beginning Aug. 3, on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications postmarked prior to July 30 will be returned. All applications received by the commission postmarked July 30 and later and received by the close of the business day on August 3 will be pooled, randomly selected and assigned a number.

Because the total amount of available 2009-2010 REAP tax credits is dependent on the state budget to be finalized later this summer, applications will be accepted until the appropriation has been committed to eligible projects. Governor Rendell’s budget proposal included an additional $10 million for REAP in fiscal 2009-10.

Farmers can receive tax credits of up to $150,000 per agricultural operation for 50 or 75 percent of the total cost of a conservation project, depending on the best management practice implemented. Farmers may also qualify for a 50 percent tax credit to purchase no-till planting equipment.

The annual report, program guidelines and applications are available at www.agriculture.state.pa.us/REAP. A one-hour Webinar explaining the details of the guidelines and application process hosted by the commission is also available on the Web site. For those without Internet access, the commission can mail paper applications.

Applicants are encouraged to work with local county conservation districts or the Natural Resources Conservation Service before applying to ensure current plans are in place for each farming operation, including conservation, agricultural erosion and sedimentation control, and nutrient management plans, if required.

All applicants who applied in the previous fiscal year but not approved because REAP credits were exhausted, will receive a short addendum application in the mail. These applicants will not be given any priority and must submit this application with all new applicants.

Fore more information about the program, contact Program Administrator Mary Bender at 717-787-8821 or via e-mail at mabender@state.pa.us.

    CONTACT:  Jean Kummer
    (717) 787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Source: newswire

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