HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Environmental Defense Fund and National Association of State Departments of Agriculture recognized Pennsylvania’s Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) tax credit program as an innovative, state-led model for conservation funding. A joint report released by the two groups yesterday named Pennsylvania among states that support farmers by creatively financing their efforts to improve soil resources, and water quality on the farm and downstream.
The report, Innovative State-Led Efforts to Finance Agricultural Conservation, highlights state-level programs that use nontraditional financing mechanisms to provide incentives for agricultural conservation efforts.
“It’s exciting to see Pennsylvania’s farmers adopt conservation practices that sustain their farming operations and enhance the quality of life in their own communities and downstream,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “And it’s gratifying to have our state government recognized nationally for taking an innovative approach to the complex challenge of managing natural resources.”
The PA Farm Bill, a historic piece of bipartisan piece of legislation Governor Tom Wolf signed in July, enhances the REAP program with a higher lifetime cap and broader availability. It also creates new programs, including the Agriculture Linked Investment Program, which will provide low-interest loans to fund conservation, and the Conservation Excellence Grant Program, which will fund agricultural best management practices in priority areas within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
–Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture