Conservation Programs2

BMP Cost-Share

The first Agricultural Incentive Program is the VA Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMP) Cost-Share Program.  The program originated in 1984 with a small number of eligible BMPs.  The program has continually been updated and revised in response to ever changing non-point source pollution and agricultural issues.Hill-Top-002-300x225

The VA AG BMP Cost-Share Program is administered by the VA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) through local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to improve water quality in the state’s streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.  The program offers cost-share assistance as an incentive to carry out construction or implementation of selected BMPs.  The basis of the program is to encourage the voluntary installation of agricultural BMPs to meet Virginia’s non-point source pollution water quality objectives.  Although resource based problems affecting water quality occur on all land uses, this program promotes efforts for corrective action on agricultural, horticultural, and forested lands only. SWCDs recruit participants from areas that will make the greaterst impact on water quality.

Currently, there over 30 eligible BMPs under this program.  The number of BMPs offered and the cost-share rate varies depending on the type of BMP.

The rate may be a flat rate.  For example, the BMP – “Reforestation of Erodible Crop and Pasture Land” has a one-time incentive payment of $175.00/acre to stabilize cropland and pastureland by planting conifers or a one-time incentive payment of $250.00/acre to plant hardwood trees.

The rate may be a percentage rate.  The BMP – “Grazing Land Protection” has a cost-share rate based on 75% of the cost of all eligible components.

Also the cost-share may be a combination of the two.  For instance, the BMP “Permanent Vegetative Cover on Cropland” has a flat rate of $25/acre, an additional $5/acre per year for the lifespan above 5 years, and 75% of the eligible component costs (seed, minerals, herbicides, pesticides, and labor).

Districts must maintain certain funding restrictions to address specific identified water quality problems.  These funding levels include:

1.The VA Agricultural BMP Cost-Share Program applicant cost-share limit or “cap” is $50,000.  This State “cap” can not be exceeded.

2.Each District Board may establish an applicant cost-share limit or “cap” for a given program year, that is less than the state maximum “cap”.  Districts sometimes enact this policy when there are numerous applicants and limited funding.  It allows everyone to get a fair share of the pie.

The VA Department of Conservation and Recreation prepare and distribute the VA Agricultural Best Management Practices (VA AG BMP) Cost-Share manual each program year. This manual should be referenced by directors and staff when administering this particular cost-share program. The most recent version is available on-line at

All BMPs must be part of a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Plan.  Certified conservation planners working for both NRCS and the local SWCD may assist the landowner in developing this plan.  Requests for BMPs must be guided by a conservation plan for the specified site.  Cost-share funds are intended to provide an incentive for the establishment of new practices, not to compensate landowners for existing practices.  Authorized practices must be new projects which meet standards and specifications outlined in the Virginia Agricultural BMP Manual.

The District Board of Directors is responsible for approving the allocation of cost-share to qualified applicants.  The board’s decision is based on a set criteria.  Each year, usually during the fourth quarter, the district develops the criteria it will use to allocate cost-share funds during the upcoming program year (PY).  This is usually referred to as the Primary and Secondary Considerations document.  There may also be evaluation worksheets that accompany this document.  At the end of the lecture, you should access examples of these documents in the “Course Documents” section of Blackboard.

Cost-Share payments can not be disbursed to the client, meaning a check can not be issued for the BMPs installed, until an authorized conservation staffer, such as a Conservation Technician, inspects the installation of all BMPs through a farm visit and certifies on an official form that the practices are designed, installed, and functioning as intended.  There is an example of a VA AG BMP Cost-share Payment Worksheet in the “Course Documents”.

The VA Agricultural BMP Cost-Share Incentive Program is an extensive program that is difficult to summarize in two slides.  Again, you are strongly encouraged to review the current PY VA AG BMP Manual. This can be accessed online as well as in hard-copy form via your local district office.