Grant to boost water quality at farms

ALBANY – The state recently awarded the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District nearly $800,000 in grant funding to improve the water quality at four farm operations in both Fulton and Montgomery counties.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday announced $13.8 million in funding to help more than 200 farms across the state implement enhanced soil and water conservation practices, which in turn will protect New York state’s waterways. These competitive grants were awarded to 32 county soil and water conservation districts, and provided by the state Soil and Water Conservation Committee and the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District District Manager Corey Nellis said his agency sought the grant funding.

He said his district will receive $798,739 to improve the water quality at these farms: two Subik family farms on County Highway 116 near Sammonsville in Fulton County and on Old Trail Road in the town of Mohawk in Montgomery County; and the Sprague and Potter families’ dairy farms, both in the town of Minden in Montgomery County.

“The whole crux of the grant is for a water quality program,” Nellis said.

He said his district will now work closely with the four farms, which all have streams running through their operations. Nellis said the district will work on various strategies such as improving the manure and milkhouse systems of the farms. Some of the work will involve working around the Cayadutta Creek watershed, he said.

Deborah Subik of the Oak Ridge Vue Farm on County Highway 116 said today she is excited about the help the soil and water conservation district will be able to provide. Her family farm was established in 1945 and has more than 100 cows.

“It helps us tremendously to be able to do the right thing for the environment,” she stated.

Nellis said the entire process of receiving the funding takes about one year, so he anticipates the district won’t be able to actually start its work at the local farms until 2015.

“Investing in our farms will help keep our agricultural industry competitive while maintaining the high standards of agricultural products that the Empire State is known for,” Cuomo said in a news release. “By enhancing conservation methods, we are ensuring the continued economic success of our farms as well as the protection of our natural resources.”

The release said the competitive grants announced by the governor will provide funding to county soil and water conservation districts to address water quality challenges facing farms in priority watersheds throughout the state. All projects support the state Agricultural Environmental Management, or AEM, framework by funding the implementation of agricultural water quality best management practices to protect natural resources while maintaining the economic viability of the state’s “diverse agricultural community,” the release said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.