A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Kevin Brown, Agricultural Resource Specialist, Bradford County Conservation District
There was a joke in school back in my day that went like, “Do you know how to keep a person in suspense? I will tell you later”. Well, I told you I would help you pay for some of these conservation practices, most notably fencing out streams, in the next column and yet I didn’t. I was keeping you in suspense. Miranda had such a good article that I just had to let her go first.
I would like to remind you that even though we here at the District may be doing it for other reasons (clean water, and who wants that?), the real reason to do any of this is for the animals themselves. The happier they are, the faster they grow (for production), and the more they will love us back.
We love animals so we get a few and turn them loose. There is a stream in the pasture, so they are all set, right? We love them and we are taking care of them. Well, not really. We can’t ask them, but we can study them to see what they like and dislike. I saw a study in Virginia where they measured how many times an animal went to the stream each day. Then, without doing anything else, they installed waterers a long way away from the stream. Guess what - cows didn’t go to the stream anymore. They had full access to it, but they did not go. Why? Probably many reasons. It is probably drier at the waterer (better footing, less flies, firmer ground, etc.). It is better water. It is probably cooler water. Streams, especially in the open, get very warm. Do you like a nice warm glass of water in the hot summer sun? Nope. I’ll get mine from that nice spring coming out of the ground. It will quench my thirst and cool me down. And maybe there are reasons that we don’t understand. However, they don’t like it any more than we like to have them there making a mess of things. Now, if you could just make a few of these improvements with little to no investment, why wouldn’t you? You are going to get paid dividends to do it. Have you heard the phrase, “happy wife, happy life”? Well, “happy livestock, happy life”.
Ok, helping with the costs. There are caveats to each program so please call me and we can discuss which program is best for you. All programs will make you meet NRCS specs. Do NOT just go out and start building. Want it simple and sweet? REAP is a tax credit program. It will give you 90% tax credits for all money spent on fencing animals out of the stream and getting them access to better water. You spend $10,000, they get you back $9,000. Pennsylvania offers a Small Business Advantage Grant that gives you 50% of equipment supplies, up to $7,000 for projects improving water quality. NRCS programs can help you fence current ag crop fields and convert them to pasture, and fence out streams, and provided waterers. Costs covered are around 70%. There is a DCNR grant that could potentially give you enough money to fence out the stream, provide alternative water systems, stream crossings, and the tree planting, and even make a little money doing it. Theirs is a flat pay price per acre for how much you are fencing out. CREP and Chesapeake Bay Foundation have money to fence animals out, provide water, and give you a bonus to help with other expenditures associated with the operation. Some, if not all, of these plans can be combined. You could fence animals out, provide good clean water, maybe even fence in a couple new pieces of ground, and at the end have almost no money tied up into it. You can “Do What’s Right For Them” with very little cash out of your pocket. You might even make a little doing it. And all to make things better for your animals, while rewarding YOU with better growth, better health, and happier animals. We really do want to help you do what is right for all of us. Call me.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District