The Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) helps agricultural producers manage financial risk through diversification, marketing or natural resource conservation practices.
NRCS administers the conservation provisions while Agricultural Marketing Service and Risk Management Agency implement the production diversification and marketing provisions.
How It Works
Producers may construct or improve water management structures or irrigation structures; plant trees for windbreaks or to improve water quality; and mitigate risk through production diversification or resource conservation practices, including soil erosion control, integrated pest management, or transition to organic farming.
Program At A Glance
- AMA provides financial assistance up to 75 percent of the cost of installing conservation practices.
- Total AMA payments shall not exceed $50,000 per participant for any fiscal year.
- Participants are not subject to Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985.
- Participants are subject to Adjusted Gross Income provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985.
- AMA offers an additional higher cost-share for historically underserved producers.
Who Is Eligible
- Be engaged in livestock or agricultural production.
- Have an interest in the farming operation associated with the land being offered for AMA enrollment.
- Have control of the land for the term of the proposed contract.
- Be in compliance with the provisions for protecting the interests of tenants and sharecroppers, including the provisions for sharing AMA payments on a fair and equitable basis.
- Be within appropriate payment limitation requirements.
- Land on which agricultural commodities or livestock are produced, such as cropland, hayland, pastureland, rangeland, and grassland.
- Land used for subsistence purposes, private non-industrial forestland, or other land on which agricultural products, livestock, or forest-related goods are produced.
- Land on which risk may be mitigated through operation diversification or change in resource conservation practices.
Payment Rates and Terms
- Statutory annual program payment limitation of $50,000 per applicant per year.
- Individual practice payment rates are calculated between 50% and 75% of the typical cost of labor, materials, and equipment to implement the practice in New Jersey.
- Rates are 25% higher, up to a maximum of 90% of the typical cost for beginning farmer, socially disadvantaged or limited resource producers.
- Projected payments in the approved conservation program contract are based on practice extent and not cost.
- Payments are made after conservation practices are implemented to the standards agreed to in advance.
- The conservation practice standard contains information on why and where the practice is applied, and it sets forth the minimum quality criteria that must be met during the application of that practice in order for it to achieve its intended purpose(s).
- Producers may contribute to the cost of a practice through in-kind sources, including personal or donated labor and use of personal equipment, as long as the value of the contribution is documented.
Practices that Can Receive Funding
Evaluation and Ranking Process
AMA is a competitive program and uses an evaluation and ranking process based on the pre-ranking criteria listed below and questions to assess the needs and cost effectiveness of implementing the conservation plan.
Applicants who meet five to six pre-rank criteria receive consideration as a high priority application. Applicants who meet three to four of the criteria receive consideration as a medium, and those that meet fewer than three are considered a low priority application.
The pre-rank criteria for AMA are:
- Average annual gross farm sales $81,600 or less for the last three years
- Total farm acreage of less than 50 of specialty/vegetable crops/pasture OR less than 200 of any other crops
- USDA program payments less than $10,000 (total) over the last five years
- Production income more than 75% of the total household income (for the previous tax year)
- Farm Operating Loan (private or government) used to support the beginning farm operation within the last 10 years
- Rented acreage totals more than 50% of the total production acreage of the farm
The state objectives of the AMA program in New Jersey include environmental risk factors of the applicant land area, such as distance to bodies of water and pollution potential from nutrients leaching into groundwater.
There are two ranking areas in New Jersey. Applications from Sussex, Warren, Morris, Passaic, Bergen, Hunterdon, Somerset and Union counties are grouped into one area for ranking. The rest of the state is grouped into a second area. The funds awarded to each area are determined by the State Technical Committee on an annual basis.
AMA Program Data, 2009 - Present
Ready to get started?
Contact your local service center to start your application.
How to Get Assistance
Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?
Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.
NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.
We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:
- To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
- To meet other eligibility certifications.
Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.
Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.
As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:
- An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
- A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
- A farm tract number.
If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.
NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.
If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.
Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.