Agricultural Management Assistance Program
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Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) provides funding assistance to help agricultural producers reduce risk by voluntarily installing conservation practices to address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control. Pennsylvania's 2014 funding option is Irrigation Systems.
How AMA Works in Pennsylvania
Applicants must have an interest in an agricultural operation, either as a producer of crops or livestock, or as an owner of land on which an eligible agricultural operation exists. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pasture, private non-industrial forestland, and other farm lands, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.
Due to the lack of a new Farm Bill, new Fiscal Year 2014 participants are not currently required to comply with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) (the three-year AGI cannot exceed $1 million, with some exceptions if at lease two-thirds of the income is from agricultural productions). This is a subject to change; participants will be notified if AGI compliance is required as a condition for receiving Fiscal Year 2014 funding.
Priority is given to applicants who have a current conservation plan. The conservation plan should describe the practices that will be included on the contract and the schedule for implementing the practices.
Preference is given to applicants who can complete work within 1-3 years.
Participants agree to maintain conservation practices for the practice life span, which may exceed the length of the contract.
Conservation Practices must meet or exceed Pennsylvania NRCS standards and specifications.
How to Apply
Applications are accepted by NRCS on a continuous basis throughout the year with cutoff dates to evaluate, rank, prioritize and select applicants. Applicants submit the NRCS-CPA-1200 Conservation Program form and Appendix in person, e-mailed (must include signature), faxed, or mailed to a local USDA Service Center.
Other documents that may need to be filed are listed in Part 1 of the contract Appendix (Appendix to Form NRCS-CPA-1200 Conservation Program Contract.) These documents, if not already filed, include self-certification with compliance with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) provisions (current version, if determined to be needed); and for applicants applying as a legal entity or joint operation, listing of members associated with the business using either a current Members Information form (CCC901) or Farm Operating Plan for an Entity (CCC902).
Applicants who wish to designate a Power of Attorney to act on their behalf can use the joint FSA/NRCS Power of Attorney form (FSA-211) to identify people who can sign application and contract documents on their behalf.
Forms are available online at USDA Service Center Agencies eForms or at a local USDA Service Center.
There is no due date to apply but farmers are encouraged to apply early to increase likelihood of being offered a contract (See Evaluation and Ranking, below). Financial assistance eligibility is contingent on the producer not starting the practice before having a signed and approved EQIP contract.
Applicants are asked to identify the practice(s) for which they are requesting assistance and the farm(s) on which the proposed practices would be installed.
Evaluation and Ranking
Requests for assistance normally exceed available funding. A screening and ranking process is used to evaluate each application to determine which applications provide the most benefits and can be offered funding assistance. Applicants with existing conservation program contacts that are out of compliance or behind schedule are assigned a low priority and not further ranked until other eligible applications are considered.
The review of applications will begin with applications received by the end of current signup cycle and will continue as long as funds are available. Because of the large demand for EQIP assistance, funds are sometimes expended after a few ranking cycles.
AMA funding is not sufficient to support a statewide signup; therefore Pennsylvania NRCS targets different areas of the state on a rotating basis. In 2014, Carbon, Columbia, Luzerne, Montour, and Northumberland counties will be targeted. Applications from other areas will be accepted but will not be included in the initial evaluation process unless funds cannot be used in the target area.
For additional information visit the NRCS National AMA web page.
Assistant State Resource Conservationist for Programs