By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
Four Montgomery County farms are set to receive nearly $800,000 in grant funding from the state to make improvements and enhance water quality standards.
According to Corey Nellis, manager of the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District, the district requested $798,739 from the state to fund projects on each of the farms -- two Subik family farms in the town of Mohawk and the Prague and Potter farms in the town of Minden.
"Each farm is getting around $200,000," he said.
Nellis said the district will now work with each of the farms in the planning and design of the projects which involve improving manure storage, leach containment and milkhouse waste transfer systems. The projects are expected to begin in 2015.
Potter Farms Owner Harold Potter said the funding will go a long way toward improving the family dairy farm, which has been in operation since 1971 and has more than 200 cows and 100 livestock.
"We want to be good stewards of the land here," Potter said. "It will keep me in business for several more years since there are capital improvements that I couldn't afford without the help."
Potter said the funds will be used for relocating a bunker silo storage away from the stream that runs through his property; enlarging and upgrading the lagoon system that is used for manure and water storage; putting fencing along the stream to keep the livestock out; and upgrading the barns with gutters and down spouts to direct the water away.
"We are appreciative of getting this grant from the state," he said. "They really want the farms to stay in business and do a good job. We are very happy."
Clark Subik of Hilltop Acres Farm declined to comment about the funding. Calls to the Sprague farm and the Subik Dairy Farm were not returned.
The grants are part of $13.8 million in funding, allocated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week, to help more than 200 farms across the state implement enhanced soil and water conservation practices, which in turn will protect the 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.
"By enhancing conservation methods, we are ensuring the continued economic success of our farms as well as the protection of our natural resources," Cuomo said in a release. "These grants will not only have an immediate effect on our agricultural sector but will also make New York a cleaner, greener, more sustainable state for future generations."
According to the governor's office, the competitive grants 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 New York State Agricultural Environmental Management framework by funding the implementation of agricultural water quality best management practices to protect natural resources while maintaining the economic viability of New York state's diverse agricultural community.
Conservation districts have developed plans tailored to a farm's goals and watershed needs. Districts will now work with farmers to implement practices such as nutrient management systems, barnyard runoff management, pasture management, and soil health management.
"Farmers rely on high quality soil and water resources for their operations," state Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said in the release. "The relationship between county soil and water conservation districts and farms spans generations. I've relied on them for my own operations and thousands of other farmers have as well. This state funding will help facilitate the highly important partnerships between farmers and their districts now and in the future."