Agricultural Programs

Our District locally administers the VA Agricultural Best Management Practice Cost Share and Tax Credit Program.

We have partnered with the NRCS to support local implementation of federal programs.

Procedures for addressing water quality problems on an individual farm level.

Learn about our District's recent recipients and how to nominate your farm!

Forms, Documents and Downloads related to the Agricultural Programs.

Agricultural Best Management Practices

BMP Programs

The District provides technical assistance to landowners for the planning, design, and installation of agricultural conservation practices and for farm conservation planning in general. For cost share assistance, the District locally administers the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practice (BMP) Cost Share and Tax Credit Program. These programs provide funding to exclude livestock from streams, provide alternative watering systems, plant cover crops, convert cropland to grass, convert to continuous no-till, and sidedress application of nitrogen on corn, among others.

Why Participate?

Conservation practices are, simply put, "the right thing to do." Conservation practices help protect two of the most important natural resources that we have: our soil and our water. However, farmers are also concerned with their "bottom line." Fortunately, conservation practices are profitable for farmers. For example, there are many reasons to limit livestock access to streams.

Increased Productivity

Limiting livestock access to streams and providing an alternative watering system improves the quality of drinking water for animals. When given the choice between troughs and streams, cattle prefer to drink water from troughs. Farmers typically see increases in weight gain of 5-10% within the first year of changing from streamwater to troughs. If calves are selling for $0.60 per pound, this increase in productivity results in an additional $15 per calf!

Fewer Incidents of Disease and Injury

Many harmful organisms can be present in streams, including the microorganisms that cause foot rot, red nose, bovine virus diarrhea, tuberculosis, jaundice, and environmental mastitis. Fencing livestock out of streams and providing a clean water source reduces contact with these germs. Keeping cattle out of streams can also reduce vet bills by reducing the amount of leg injuries caused by walking through muddy and steep stream banks. Eliminating stream access can reduce mortality during calving, as cows are unable to calve in wet areas or near unstable stream banks.

Easy Pasture Management

Placing waterers throughout your pasture will increase forage utilization. Waterers can be placed strategically to be used with a rotational grazing system to increase productivity and efficiency.

Economic Opportunities

There is the possibility of making income from nut- or fruit-bearing trees or from harvesting lumber and firewood in the fenced-out portion of the stream. Also, if you are involved in the CREP program, you will be paid an annual rental payment for allowing trees to grow in the buffer. These buffer areas are also great for wildlife, so there may be an opportunity to make money from allowing hunting. This is one way to make money grow on trees.


Fencing livestock out of the stream drastically reduces streambank erosion and allows denuded areas to heal. Your neighbors will certainly appreciate your efforts to improve the appearance of your farm.

USDA Programs

Federal programs are administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The TJSWCD works closely with the NRCS to support local implementation of the federal programs listed below. This partnership allows the District to better serve the landowners seeking assistance and environmental benefits are maximized. NRCS staff also provides technical assistance to landowners for conservation planning, animal waste management plans, and grazing plans. Select your locality to contact your nearest NRCS representative:


Currently available programs include:

Incentives are available through this program to take land out of production and install riparian forest buffers and riparian herbaceous buffers.

Funding for the implementation of conservation systems such as grazing land improvement systems, waste management, and wildlife management reforestation and management of timberland projects.

Funding for the implementation of conservation systems such as grazing land improvement systems, waste management, and wildlife management reforestation and management of timberland projects.

Agricultural Stewardship Act

The ASA provides a procedure by which agricultural water quality problems can be addressed by looking at each farm individually, rather than having a strict set of regulations governing every type of farming practice. The procedure is complaint-based, with complaints submitted to the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Soil and Water Conservation Districts are given the opportunity to conduct the investigations to determine if the subject of a complaint is actually causing pollution. The TJSWCD, believing that local administration of such a regulation is preferable, accepted this responsibility. The TJSWCD will also provide technical assistance to the farmer to develop a plan to alleviate water quality problems resulting from their operations.

Virginia Clean Water Farm Award

About the Award

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation sponsors the Virginia Clean Farm Award. This program recognizes farms that “exemplify the use of practices that protect and enhance water quality.” The Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District submits nominees to Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation after evaluation and approval by the District’s Board of Directors. From the pool of District-level award recipients, “Grand Basin” Award winners are selected by DCR for each of Virginia’s major river basins.

Farm Nominations

To nominate your farm or another farm that shows exceptional use of practices to protect water quality, information is available from the VA DCR here.

Past Award Winners from the TJ District


    James River Basin: Fox Mountain Farm


    James River Basin: Paul Coleman
    York River Basin: James Kean


    James River Basin: Friendship Court and Modesto Farms
    York River Basin: Bracketts Farm, E.A. Nolting Charitable Foundation


    James River Basin: David Norford, Piedmont Manor Farm
    York River Basin: Mark & Doniphan Howland, Corduroy Farm


    James River Basin: Rivanna Farm
    York River Basin: Robert Norton, Norfields Farm

Agricultural BMP Documents

    There are no files currently available for this program.