Lancaster Farmland Trust & Team Ag Partner with East Lampeter Township
By Charity Kadwill
If you are a farmer in East Lampeter Township, you have probably had the pleasure of receiving a visit from a staff member of the Lancaster Farmland Trust (LFT) within the last few months. In an effort to bridge the gap between farmers and the Municipality, East Lampeter Township teamed up with the folks at LFT, as well as local agricultural engineering firm, TeamAg to get more farms in compliance with Agricultural Erosion & Sedimentation (Ag E&S) Plans and Manure Management Plans (MMPs).
The Township and LFT identified certain target areas based on data that LFT had gathered on which farms already had an Ag E&S or MMP, and which areas the Township is trying to concentrate its water quality efforts in through the MS4 program. Through an inventory process, LFT identified 50 farms within the Township’s target area with which to make personal site visits to see if farmers were indeed interested in getting into compliance with these plans. Understanding that increased regulations often pose a financial burden to farms, the partnership between the Township, LFT, and Team Ag decreased the out of pocket cost to the farmer significantly. Between financial contributions from the Township, time and engineering efforts from LFT and Team Ag, and REAP tax credits, these plans which originally would cost the farmer upwards of $2,000-3,000 out of pocket, will now cost around $300 out of pocket.
With a goal of 20 new farms in compliance by the end of the exercise, LFT scheduled a free Ag E&S and Manure Management Plan Workshop on July 12th, hosted by East Lampeter Township. LFT visited farms and sent mailers in order to spread the word about the event. We had an attendance of about 10 farmers, and many more farmers who weren’t able to attend indicated that they were interested in LFT following up with them after they visited their farm to advertise the workshop.
Representatives from East Lampeter Township, Team Ag, and LFT spoke about the regulatory compliance aspect of the plans, as well as how having current plans aids in the ability to receive permits and contributes to better water quality within the Township’s and Chesapeake Bay’s watersheds. The message was generally well received and farmers had the ability to ask questions and get clarification on how the plan process works. Team Ag and LFT are following up with farmers and getting folks on board to reach our 20 farm goal by August of 2018.