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Funding to Provide Seed Money to Encourage Farmers to Participate in Federal Programs
For Immediate Release: October 2, 2007
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

Photo (right): With upfront money from NJAS's mini-loan program, fencing was installed so that the farm can implement a prescribed grazing plan under its EQIP contract. Courtesy of NJAS. 

(TRENTON) – The New Jersey Department of Agriculture today announced the awarding of a $50,000 grant to the New Jersey Audubon Society (NJAS) for its mini-loan program that provides farmers in the state with funding to assist them in initiating implementation of conservation practices.

The Revolving Resource Fund – Mini-Loan Program aids farmers interested in enrolling in existing government-sponsored conservation programs that fund projects that promote agricultural sustainability.  Those programs include: Conservation Reserve Program (CRP); Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP); and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP).

“We are pleased to partner with the New Jersey Audubon Society to encourage farmers to undertake these projects that not only protect soil and water resources, but increase productivity and profitability for the farmer,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus.  “The mini-loan program provides the seed money to help farmers take the next step toward implementing practices that improve water quality, soil health, and diverse habitat.”

The Audubon Society’s loan program provides start-up money to farmers until they are reimbursed by the federal government for carrying out their approved soil and water conservation projects on their farms.  Farmers must repay the loan with 1 percent interest when they receive their reimbursement.  Those monies are then put back into the loan fund for use by other farmers. 

Since NJ Audubon has started working more closely with the farming community, NJAS has helped secured approximately $570,000 of Federal and/or State conservation incentive program payments for farmers.  This mini-loan program will help to expedite additional conservation funding payments and conservation opportunities for the farmer.

“In New Jersey’s shrinking rural landscapes, significant overlap exists between the concerns of the environmental community for the preservation of rare wildlife and water quality and the agricultural community’s concern for viable agricultural policy,” said Tom Gilmore, President of the New Jersey Audubon Society.  “Implementation of sustainable farming practices dramatically improves environmental conditions at the local level, protecting watersheds and habitat for wildlife.  Many farmers opt out of federally subsidized conservation programs not because they lack the interest but rather because they cannot afford the large upfront costs associated with these programs.  This unique partnership between NJ Audubon and the NJ Department of Agriculture offers one solution to this problem.”

Projects include terrace systems; diversions; water impoundment reservoirs; sediment retention, erosion or water control systems; drainage systems; animal waste control facilities; and land shaping and grading.

The New Jersey Audubon Society (NJAS) is a privately supported, not-for profit, statewide membership organization. Founded in 1897, and one of the oldest independent Audubon societies, NJAS has no connection with the National Audubon Society. NJAS fosters environmental awareness and a conservation ethic while preserving wildlife and natural systems.

The federal conservation projects are funded through the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), with authority from the federal Farm Bill, up for reauthorization this year.

“The Farm Bill provides many opportunities for farmers to consider in conserving natural resources on their land,”  said Tom Drewes, State Conservationist for  NRCS.  “NRCS is happy to see the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and New Jersey Audubon Society working together to help farmers take advantage of these opportunities through this loan program.”

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture promotes the implementation of farm conservation plans to address any natural resource concerns on farms.  The Department provides agricultural conservation planning assistance for development of these plans for farmers and landowners using best management practices (BMPs) for soil erosion and sediment control, animal waste nutrient management, water quality improvement, non-point source pollution control and other natural resource management concerns. Technical assistance and federal cost-sharing grants are available to help eligible landowners implement BMPs. Farmers may contact their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office or their local soil conservation district for further information.

In addition, the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) provides cost-sharing grants to landowners in the permanent or eight-year farmland preservation programs to fund approved soil and water conservation projects.  For more information, visit