The Conservation Excellence Grant (CEG) Program is a new state funded program with the purpose of providing financial and technical assistance for the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) on agricultural operations. The State Conservation Commission (SCC) administers the program with assistance from county conservation districts delegated certain responsibilities and duties. These delegated responsibilities include reviewing, ranking and approving applications for eligible projects and monitoring project completion. Financial assistance is provided to program applicants through grants, loans and tax credits, or a combination of all three. Priority will be given to applicants who propose utilizing all three methods of funding. Tax credits will be facilitated through the REAP Program administered by the SCC. A single grant awarded by the district to an eligible applicant may not exceed $250,000. Projects with total costs exceeding $25,000 are subject to the requirements of the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act. Grant funding is available for small projects with costs totaling less than $25,000.
The CEG Program funds are for proposed projects that implement planned BMPs from an Ag E&S Plan, Conservation Plan, Nutrient Management Plan or a Manure Management Plan that has been developed for an agricultural operation. Priority will be given to proposed projects that already have planning, engineering, and design work completed. Priority practices include livestock exclusion fencing, off-stream livestock watering facilities, stream crossings, riparian buffers, barnyard and feedlot runoff abatement, waste storage facilities, streambank protection, cover crops, and planning BMPs (Ag E&S Plan, Conservation Plan, Nutrient Management Plan, Manure Management Plan). Combining multiple priority practices improves application scoring. Other non-priority practices that are eligible for funding can be found in the REAP Program BMP list, which is located on the PA Department of Agriculture website.
CEG Program applications are available from the Conservation District now (see link below or contact the District). The Conservation District will begin accepting applications on July 1. At this time the Conservation District is not imposing an application deadline. Applicants can also find more details on eligibility, priority projects, and program guidelines and requirements for program participants in documents linked below. For more information or for help completing an application, feel free to contact Mark Flaharty (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Stephen Miller (email@example.com) by email or call the Conservation District at (717) 840-7430.