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Agricultural Management Assistance

The Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) is a voluntary conservation program that targets beginning and limited resource farmers, small farms, and producers who have had limited participation in other USDA financial assistance programs. AMA provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporating conservation into their farming operations.

Producers may improve water use efficiency through the construction of efficient irrigation systems and irrigation water management practices, reduce non-point source pollutants through filter strips and nutrient management, and improve habitat conservation through conservation cover and windbreak establishment.

What Practices Can Receive Funding?

New Jersey has developed program categories around the five national priority areas for the AMA program. A list of conservation practices was developed to address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control. Each practice is meant to work in combination with others as part of the total resource management plan on the farm. Implementing conservation practices on your farm may increases your economic flexibility and long term profitability while strengthening your stewardship of natural resources and the environment. Because practices work in concert with one another, practices may address more than one national priority.

Eligible Practices on Cropland
Eligible Practices on Grazing Land
Reduction in non-point source pollutants Cover Crop, Field Border, Filter Strip, Nutrient Management, Pest Management, Riparian Forest Buffer, Riparian Herbaceous Habitat

Stream Crossing, Access Control, Livestock Watering System, Riparian Forest Buffer, Riparian Herbaceous Habitat

Supporting practices: Fence, Pipeline, Well

Irrigation water use efficiency

Irrigation Systems  (Micro-irrigation or Sprinkler), Irrigation Water Management

Supporting practices: Irrigation Water Pipe

Reduction in particulate or ozone precursor emissions Cover Crop, Nutrient Management, Pest Management, Windbreak Establishment Renewable power source for Livestock Watering System, Prescribed Grazing, Windbreak Establishment
Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation Cover Crop, Nutrient Management, Residue Management (No Till) Animal Trails and Walkways, Pasture Planting, Prescribed Grazing
Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation Conservation Cover, Field Border, Filter Strip, Riparian Forest Buffer, Riparian Herbaceous Habitat, Windbreak Establishment Riparian Forest Buffer, Riparian Herbaceous Habitat, Windbreak Establishment

What are the Payment Rates and Terms?

Permanent covers protect the land from erosion and reduce evapotranspiration.There is a 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. If the applicant is a beginning farmer, socially disadvantaged or limited resource producer, the rates are 25% higher, up to a maximum of 90% of the typical cost.

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.

Who is Eligible?

Applicants must have current crop and producer records on file with USDA’s Farm Service Agency. They must own or control the land for the term of the proposed contract, agree to implement specific eligible conservation practices according to the contract schedule, and be engaged in livestock or agricultural production with annual potential sales of $1,000 or more

To be eligible for funding for livestock practices, the livestock must have been housed or grazed on land under the operator’s control for at least 12 of the previous 36 months, with an allowance for normal variations in animal numbers.

Review the Program Details for additional eligibility requirements.

How Does Signup for AMA Work?

Filter strips and field borders capture sediment and provide for pollinators.AMA has a continuous sign-up with application cut-off dates to rank and prioritize any new or unfunded applications. A signed application can be filed with the local NRCS office at any time. View Current Funding Opportunities for current application periods.

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 5 to 6 of the pre-rank criteria receive consideration as a high priority application. Applicants who meet 3 to 4 of the criteria receive consideration as a medium, and those that meet fewer than 3 are considered a low priority application.

The pre-rank criteria for AMA are:

  1. Average annual gross farm sales $81,600 or less for the last three years
  2. Total farm acreage of less than 50 of specialty/vegetable crops/pasture OR less than 200 of any other crops
  3. USDA program payments less than $10,000 (total) over the last five years
  4. Production income more than 75% of the total household income (for the previous tax year)
  5. Farm Operating Loan (private or government) used to support the beginning farm operation within the last 10 years
  6. Rented acreage totals more than 50% of the total production acreage of the farm

Nutrient management can reduce energy use on the farm, saving time and money.Interested applicants can review the program information available on this website and should request a new or updated conservation plan for their farm. An NRCS conservationist will meet with you to evaluate the soil, water, air, plant and animal resources on your property and offer several alternatives to address the resource conditions. The alternatives you decide to use are recorded in your conservation plan which includes a schedule for installation. A contract offer is developed based on the conservation plan, and on how well the proposed practices meet national, state, and local environmental objectives, as well as their cost-efficiency, determined by the ranking process.

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.

How to Apply

More Information

To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit

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