Ecosystem Services in Working Lands: US Northeast

Other direct incentive programs can work in tandem to assist with issues of financial viability, resource conservation, family succession, modernization of infrastructure, and other issues that may enhance the long-term continued use of the agricultural resource. • Voluntary financial and technical assistance . Run by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is voluntary and provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers for up to 10 years. These contracts provide assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns to improve and conserve soil, water, plant, animal, air, and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. EQIP also helps producers meet federal, state, tribal, and local environmental regulations. • Combined assistance programs. In combination with EQIP, the Vermont EQIP Assist program, for example, is an opportunity for farmers with contracts through the NRCS’s EQIP program to receive additional cost-sharing on the practices implemented as part of these contracts. In addition, the Massachusetts APR Improvement Program (AIP) program provides business planning and technical assistance to commercial farms with land that has already been protected through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program. Land tenure is a central issue for the food and agricultural system in the U.S. Northeast, which has seen a decreasing agricultural land base and an increasing deed to improve land access to emerging or existing producers. • Selling publicly owned lands. USFWS/USDA FSA Inventory Property Disposal Program, which provides direct and guaranteed farm ownership and farm operating loans to farmers who are temporarily unable to obtain private, commercial credit. The FSA is sometimes able to obtain the title to real property when a borrower defaults on a loan secured by the property. Once it has a title, the FSA holds such properties in inventory until sale or other disposal. In Rhode Island, the state Farmland Access Program, which is currently in development, will allow the Department of Environmental Management (Division of Agriculture) to partner with the state’s Agricultural Land Preservation Commission to purchase farmland, protect it, and affordably sell it to farmers looking for land. • Leasing publicly owned lands. In Washington D.C., the Urban Farming Land Lease Program, run by the Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE), offers select District-owned parcels across all 8 wards for lease to private entities to facilitate agriculture production. In addition to these in-cash direct incentive programs, there are a number of in-kind programs available in a number of states that provide direct links between producers and necessary resources, such as tools and equipment. Digital directories are available for farmers to • share or rent tools (e.g. Tool and Equipment Sharing & Rental Platform organized by Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture in WV, DC, MD, DE); • find feed for livestock (e.g. organized by Maryland-Delaware Forage Council in MD and DE); • find employment (e.g. New Entry Sustainable Farming Project organizes a Farm Employment Directory in MA); and • find land (e.g. FarmLink in CT, ME).

4.2.1.2 Farmer training across career stages

A number of programs provide professional development across the career span, from young and beginning farmers to long-term farmers.

• New farmer training programs. Particularly important for incentivizing young people into agriculture, these programs are run by state-level U.S. Northeast Organic Farmer Associations (NOFAs) as well as by the Cooperative Extension programs in each state. Various NOFAs also offer a

26

Made with FlippingBook flipbook maker