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Funding available for grazing land stewardship

The Farm Agronomic Practices Program offered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Farm and Markets (VAAFM) uses state funding to help Vermont farms implement soil-based agronomic practices to improve soil quality, increase crop production, and reduce erosion and agricultural waste discharges.
In 2019, rotational grazing was added as an eligible practice, paying farmers $25 per acre for managing pastures to prevent overgrazing. This practice is again included in the 2020 Farm Agronomic Practices, or FAP, program. Farmers may apply for grazing as a standalone practice or in combination with other agronomic practices such as cover cropping and reduce tillage. Payments are capped at a total of $8,000 per farm.
To apply, farmers must submit the application along with a current grazing plan and maps. Producers must be in good standing with the state of Vermont and sign a grant agreement. Farms cannot receive FAP grazing payments for practices on acreage already being applied through USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), meaning farmers cannot be paid twice for the same practice on the same acreage.
If you do not have an existing grazing plan to submit, I can assist you with writing up a short narrative about your management. Alternatively, a plan template is available from VAAFM for farmers to complete. Before payments are made, a representative from VAAFM will conduct a site visit to verify pastures are managed in a way that prevents overgrazing damage. This will be accomplished through a field inspection and a records review. For more information and to apply to the FAP program visit agriculture.vermont.gov/fap. The 2020 application deadlines are June 15 for Rotational Grazing, and Aug. 1 for Cover Crop.
The Pasture and Surface Water Fencing (PSWF) Program is another state opportunity which can help producers with grazing technical and financial assistance. Farmers can apply to install fence, water systems, laneways and other pasture improvements. The PSWF program can be an alternative to NRCS EQIP funding, when those funds are not available. This program provides 90% cost share for improvements that affect water quality, and will continue to run through 2020. For more information and to apply visit agriculture.vermont.gov/pswf.
The UVM Extension’s popular record keeping tool, the year-at-a-glance planned grazing charts, will again be available this year.
These charts are a very user-friendly way to document your management and can meet the requirements for record keeping by NRCS, the state FAP program, and organic certification. 
If you would like to receive a chart for your grazing record keeping, please email me at Cheryl.Cesario@ uvm.edu, or call 802-388-4969 ext. 346 (please leave a message).
Cheryl Cesario is a Grazing Outreach Professional at UVM Extension.

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