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Signup Period for Conservation Buffer Initiative Opens January 10

New opportunities for riparian buffers with pasture, deer fencing

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) today announced that the signup period for its Conservation Buffer Initiative will run from January 10 to February 18, 2022. Now in its second year, this popular conservation program offers attractive incentives, easy signup, and more management options for farmers who want to plant streamside buffers on their farms to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

New this year, farmers can receive up to $4,500/acre to install riparian forest buffers with pasture fencing. Financial assistance is also available to install deer fencing along grass buffers. Other features include a buffer option for field ditches, flexible site management, and shorter contract terms. 

“The Conservation Buffer Initiative saw great interest from farmers in its inaugural year, and we are excited to bring it back for 2022 with added incentives,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Conservation buffers are an important tool in our efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed. I encourage all farmers with streamside property to contact their local soil conservation district and take advantage of this great opportunity.”

Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan includes a goal to plant 63,980 acres of buffers by 2025. As of June 30, 2021, Maryland farmers have planted 52,405 acres of buffers, and this grant program aims to help close the gap. Three types of buffers are eligible for funding and free technical assistance from local soil conservation districts: forest buffers planted next to waterways, grass buffers planted next to waterways or field ditches, and watercourse access control areas adjacent to pastures. 

Here are program highlights:

  • Payment rates range from $500/acre for an existing grass buffer to a maximum of $4,500/acre to install a riparian forest buffer with pasture fencing.
  • Financial assistance is offered to install deer fencing next to grass buffers.
  • Mowing and hay harvesting are allowed; nutrient applications are not.
  • Farmers receive a one-time payment for enrolled land.
  • Contracts are for five or 10 years.
  • All work must be completed by June 30, 2023.

Farmers who want to install new buffers on land adjacent to waterways or improve existing buffers are encouraged to sign up for these grants through MDA’s website by February 18, 2022. For help with applications or questions, please contact your local soil conservation district office. 

Funding for Maryland’s Conservation Buffer Initiative is provided by the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

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Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:
Jessica Hackett
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888