RALEIGH – A new initiative between state and federal officials makes funding available to swine farmers who switch from hog lagoons to a more environmentally friendly and innovative waste management system.
The Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative announced Monday creates a partnership between the state Division of Soil and Water Conservation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The initiative is expected to run five years and makes more than $1.1 million available for lagoon conversion projects in its first year. Funding comes from the Natural Resources Conservation Services’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
“We have a long history of working closely with our conservation partners at NRCS, and we appreciate their support in this initiative,” said Pat Harris, director of the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation. “It is important that North Carolina continue to pursue opportunities to promote improved technologies to protect the environment and also support our state’s agricultural economy.”
Harris praised the federal funding initiative, stressing the importance of finding innovative ways to meet conservation objectives during a severe economic recession.
The initiative gives highest priority to the installation of innovative swine waste management technologies consistent with the state’s Lagoon Conversion Program. The Lagoon Conversion Program was established by the General Assembly in 2007 to encourage the installation of new technologies to provide improved water quality protection and reduce odor and ammonia emissions more than existing lagoon and sprayfield systems. The initiative is intended to help non-federal partners address high-priority conservation objectives by targeting NRCS conservation program assistance, with special emphasis on projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce renewable energy. As such, funds not used to install lagoon conversion technologies may be used to close existing swine waste lagoons or install other waste management technologies that yield renewable energy or greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Swine farmers who participate in the initiative may receive 75 percent of the typical cost of eligible practices. Producers classified as beginning, limited resource, small and socially-disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and Indian tribes may receive up to 90 percent of typical costs to install the waste management technologies. Participants must meet the federal program’s eligibility criteria to receive funding.
“We are excited about this opportunity to support North Carolina’s efforts to promote innovative waste management systems,” said Mary Combs, state conservationist for U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service in North Carolina. “This initiative also fits well with USDA’s efforts to further the nation’s ability to increase renewable energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Interested producers must apply for designated federal initiative funds by the application deadline of June 26. To initiate the application process, producers should contact Vernon Cox, Technical Services section chief with the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation, at (919) 715-6810 or Vernon.Cox@ncdenr.gov.