Cows in pasture

New Funding Opportunity!

The Alliance to Advance Climate-Smart Agriculture

TJSWCD is now providing funding for implementing climate-smart agricultural practices!

Alliance Flyer

Scenic Virginia pasture

What is the “Alliance”?

A Climate-Smart Commodities Grant

The Alliance to Advance Climate-Smart Agriculture is a pilot program that will incentivize and reward farmers and landowners for adopting climate-smart agriculture practices that will maintain and enhance agricultural productivity, benefit producers, and improve climate resilience. This grant is part of a historic multibillion-dollar investment by the USDA in Climate-Smart Commodities.

$100 per Acre OR Animal Unit Payments on Select Practices

The Alliance can pay $100 per acre or animal unit, depending on the practices selected, for participants enrolled in one of the qualifying Climate-Smart NRCS practices. Highlighted practices include:

– NRCS 528: Prescribed Grazing

– NRCS 590: Nutrient Management Plan

– NRCS 340: Cover Crops

For more information about the selected NRCS practices, see below.

Aerial cows in field

Low Barrier Eligibility

Reduced minimum acreage requirement. Farms of all sizes are encouraged to participate- small and large! For the pilot phase of this project, we are capping the maximum acreage per participant at 160 acres.

There is no minimum time in production requirement. New to farming and looking for technical and financial assistance? Look no further.

There are no long-term contracts. Looking for a short-term commitment to try out something new? The “Alliance” offers one-year contracts!

When and where do I apply?

The first application cycle was open from February 20th – March 20, 2024 and is now closed. Sign up for our newsletter here to receive  updates on the next application cycle, anticipated to open Summer 2024.

Check our project-wide website here for more information!

Who is Eligible?

The Alliance is open to agricultural producers within the participating counties listed below.

Producers may apply with up to two FSA numbers per designated operator.  Payments will go to the FSA-designated operator, or be divided between the primary operator and up to (1) co-applicant per FSA number.

Eligible producers will:

✔    Enroll a minimum of (2) acres at an operation located within one of the approved participating districts (there is no minimum enrollment for animal units);

✔    Have a verified Farm Service Agency (FSA) number (or be willing to obtain one prior to enrolling in the program);

✔    Confirm that the land enrolled and the practice(s) requested will not also be enrolled in a USDA conservation program or other program associated with the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities sponsored grant program;

✔    Confirm that the land enrolled and the practice(s) requested will not be dually enrolled in a cost-share program;

✔    Confirm that the producer will have control of the land for the term of the producer agreement, and

✔    Quantify and self-report total greenhouse gas benefits through the use of COMET-Planner

Farms Located within the following localities are eligible to apply for the first year of the pilot project: 

Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District:

  • Nelson County
  • Albemarle County
  • City of Charlottesville
  • Louisa County
  • Fluvanna County

Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District:

  • New Kent
  • Charles City
  • James City
  • City of Williamsburg
  • York

Colonial SWCD will be implementing within its neighboring SWCDs, and will be the main point of contact for farmers within these additional counties:

  • Gloucester
  • Matthews
  • Middlesex
  • Essex
  • King and Queen
  • King William
  • Caroline
  • Hanover
  • Henrico
  • Chesterfield
  • Prince George
  • Surry
  • Isle of Wight
  • City of Suffolk
Alliance Map

If your farm is located within the the red counties on the map, you’re in the right place! If your farm is located within any of the blue counties, please contact Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District.

What Practices Qualify?

Want to learn more? Attend one of our Brown-Bag Alliance Info Sessions, register here! Can’t attend one of those sessions? Watch a recorded session below. Please know that we aim to get you the most up-to-date information as possible during these sessions. If information changes, we will refresh this recording with the most current information.

FAQs

The application window is open from February 20, 2024 – March 20, 2024. The application portal will be open for a 30-day period. At the end of the 30-day application period, applications will be randomly selected to participate in the pilot program. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive email updates!

You are still eligible! Contact us to ask which practices would be compatible with your current contract with the District. Some practices are ineligible, dependent on what your currently under contract with the District for. You cannot be dual enrolled in the state cost-share program (VACS) and the Alliance for the same practice, on the same piece of land, in the same year.

Please contact Jessica Shippen-Hansen at 434-975-0224 EXT 112, or alliance@tjswcd.org for assistance with the application.

For the Alliance, your contract will be 1-year from enrollment.

The next application period is TBD. Please sign up for our newsletter here to be the first to hear when the dates are released!

Practice selection will be based on your management goals and objectives. If you’d like assistance with selecting the best practice for you, please contact us and we’d be happy to help!

In the spirit of the Justice40 Initiative, at least 40% of enrolled producers will be from historically underserved operations. Producers who qualify as a Historically Underserved Farmer or Rancher may be eligible for an additional equity payment.

For the Alliance we are using the USDA definition of Underserved, which includes Small, Beginning, 100% Women-Owned, Veteran, Limited Resource, or Socially Disadvantaged producer groups.

SMALL OPERATIONS:  An operation with gross cash farm income under $250,000

BEGINNING OPERATIONS:  An individual who has not operated a farm, ranch, for more than 10 consecutive years To qualify, an individual must provide substantial day-to-day labor and management of the operation, consistent with the practices in the county or State where the operation is located A legal entity or joint operation can be considered a Beginning Farmer and Rancher (BFR) if all members individually qualify

100% WOMEN-OWNED OPERATIONS: Operations whose principal operator—the individual most responsible for the day-today decisions of the farm (or ranch)—is a woman.

VETERAN OPERATIONS:  An individual who has served in the armed forces, including a reserve component; was released from service under conditions other than dishonorable; and qualifies as Beginning; or first obtained veteran status during the last 10 years.

LIMITED RESOURCE OPERATIONS: An individual who has direct or indirect gross farm sales not more than the current indexed value in each of the previous 2 years, and: has a total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of four in each of the previous 2 years; or has a total household income less than 50 percent of the county median household income in each of the previous 2 years A legal entity or joint operation can be considered BFR if all members individually qualify. To determine if you qualify as Limited Resource Producer, USDA provides an online self-determination tool: https://lrftool.sc.egov.usda.gov/DeterminationTool.aspx?fyYear=2024.

SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED:  Members of a group who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of that group without regard to their individual qualities. We acknowledge that the term “socially disadvantaged” is not how individuals who fit the definitions below identify themselves. In this guide, it is included out of necessity as a legal term used in the Farm Bill to outline specific incentives, priorities, and set asides for underserved producers within USDA programs. Includes the following groups: American Indian or Alaska Native Asian Black or African American Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander Hispanic A legal entity or legal operation can be considered Socially Disadvantaged if at least 50 percent ownership in the business is held by Socially Disadvantaged individuals.

We encourage you to take a look at our Application Checklist, which lists all of the information you will need handy in order to fill out the application.

Additional information about the timeline, practice information, and definitions can be found in the Alliance Producer Guide.

You do not need an FSA Farm Number to apply, but you will need one to enroll in the Alliance. We encourage producers to reach out to their local FSA Office as soon as possible if they do not have an FSA Farm Number, or do not know what their FSA Farm Number is.

Don’t know where your FSA Office is? Click here to find your local service center.

To enroll, the Alliance will be asking you to upload copies of your FSA Farm maps, and your Subsidiary Print during the enrollment phase. You will not need these documents to apply, but you will need to have them on hand if you get selected for the program and decide to enroll.