Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
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Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce

<span style="font-weight: bold"><span style="font-size: 17pt">Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce runoff</span></span>

By <span style="font-weight: bold">Ad Crable</span>
LNP Newspaper
Mar. 7, 2015

<span style="font-weight: bold">LANCASTER</span> (AP) — A farmer in Sadsbury Township recently was awarded a $597,000 state grant to make wholesale improvements to a barnyard that one consultant described as "pretty much a mud lot."
It was the largest ag grant ever awarded to a farmer by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, also known as Pennvest.
But what is truly eye-opening is that the state taxpayer money is going to an Amish farmer.
With increasing state and federal pressure to substantially reduce the runoff of nutrients and soil choking the Chesapeake Bay, millions of dollars are being diplomatically offered to reticent Plain-sect farmers in Lancaster County to get more conservation measures on farms.
And in a break from the past, more and more Plain-sect farmers here are willing to accept government assistance to help pay for changes being demanded of them.
To be sure, there is hardly a stampede of Amish and Old Order Mennonite farmers competing for financial aid. And in some communities, the thought of taking government money remains abhorrent.
But after generations of flat-out turning their backs on taking any government aid, the thaw in attitude by some Plain-sect farmers, mainly Amish, is striking.
"Trying to stay ahead of regulations is the main thing," observes Darren Shenk of Red Barn Consulting, an East Hempfield Township company that often acts as a middleman between government funding and Amish farmers.
Those involved in working with Amish farmers to encourage them to adopt more best-management practices say the move a couple of years ago by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to play hardball in enforcing state-required conservation and manure-management plans on farms has definitely shaken up Plain-sect farmers.
Matt Ehrhart of the Chester County-based Stroud Water Research Center chuckles when he remembers a conversation he had with an Amish bishop 12 years ago about the need to clean up barnyards on some Amish farms.
"He said, 'Well, farmers are really, really busy. Some of these things we understand are a good idea. If the day comes where we see we have to do this, we will do it.'?"
The day has come.
But it should be noted that along with threatening to carry a big stick, EPA has sweetened the pot by providing funds to assist farmers in making barnyard improvements.
But other factors are at play as well, such as a general aversion to handouts.
"The main comment I get is they don't want something for nothing," observes Jeremy Weaver of TeamAg, a Lancaster-based farm-consulting business.
TeamAg has helped Amish farmers get 17 Pennvest grants in the last four years.
"We say, let's improve the environment and the sustainability and conserve natural resources," says Weaver, who helped Daniel Stoltzfus get that $597,000 grant in Sadsbury Township. "We've been getting more and more acceptance from these folks."
Weaver, who has been working with Plain-sect farmers for 13 years, also thinks newer generations of Amish farmers seem to be more receptive to managing their farms differently than their fathers and grandfathers did.
When he started working with Amish farmers, Weaver didn't even broach the subject of money assistance.
"I knew what the answer was going to be, so I didn't even bring it up," he recalls.
"Some are looking at it not as just a handout but something to move their operation along and make it more sustainable," says Heather Grove, district conservationist for the Lancaster County office of the federal National Resources Conservation Service.
Her office hands out about $2 million in financial assistance to Lancaster County farmers each year. She, too, has seen more applications from Plain-sect farmers.
Less prevalent than in the past is a fear among Plain sects that accepting any government funding might somehow require them to start paying Social Security.
But selling the need for water-quality improvements often has been difficult.
"You are not making it easier to produce goods such as their milk or tobacco," notes Ehrhart. "So the best we can do is say some of these programs can take care of water-quality issues, which society is willing to pay for. I think that resonates sometimes."
Ehrhart also thinks more Amish involvement in off-the-farm businesses has made the concept of financial assistance less foreign.
"These guys are running around with smartphones and are much more integrated into the regular world," he says.
The Octoraro Watershed Association, which has been working with Amish farmers to adopt best-management practices for 16 years, uses Amish liaisons to seal the deal.
Pat Fasano, project manager of the grass-roots group, says that for many years the path to success had to go through local leaders of Amish communities.
Now, he says, "generally, church leadership leaves the decision up to individual farmers."
Stoltzfus, 28, did not consult his bishop in agreeing to accept the $597,000 grant on his newly purchased farm.
His farm, in a flood plain and with a stream running through the barnyard, was especially challenging.
A pipe will be run underneath Valley Run to pipe manure from a cow barn to a new manure-storage facility above the flood plain.
Also, both sides of the stream will be fenced to keep cows out of the waterway, and a streamside buffer will improve wildlife in and out of the water.
The dramatic shift in thinking among church leaders is reflected in a recent conversation Jeff Swinehart, deputy director of Lancaster Farmland Trust, had with an Amish bishop.
It was at a closing for a conservation easement on a farm, and the subject of increased conservation measures on farms came up.
Recalls Swinehart, "He said if the government is going to require this, then it's OK to get assistance, and to seek it out."

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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 03:12 AM
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Re: Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce

My rabbit cage has a bit of a run off with all the melting snow wonder how much that will bring me.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 03:45 AM
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Re: Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce

Glad to see some efforts to improve the conditions on farms in that area come to fruition. I used to work at Stroud, so I know how hard they've been working to make inroads with farmers in the Chesapeake watershed, especially Amish and Mennonite farmers, to start establishing buffers along the streams and implementing some erosion and nutrient management strategies.

Now I work for a pond and lake management company, and a lot of my clients are in Maryland. For obvious reasons, MD has been doing as much as it can to control the nutrient pollution that has been hitting the bay really hard for many years now. The regulations on stormwater and agricultural runoff are pretty stringent there, as they should be, so a lot of my work is geared to keeping my clients in compliance. It always strikes me when I drive up into Amish country and see cows wading through streams, and manure spread on fields with no buffer between tillage and the bank. Here some HOA in Bel Air has to meet the TMDL restrictions for nutrients leaving their stormwater basins, and these farms in PA might as well be pouring manure directly into the bay.

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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 10:30 AM
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Re: Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce

Hip, What do you guys suggest for controlling fish manure? Frog? turtle? clams? mussels ? oyster? aquatic insects? geese? ducks? and other shore birds?

This has just got to stop! been going on for a bit longer than farming in this country! Why a fellow could get mighty crabby just thinking about it!


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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 11:22 AM
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Re: Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce

The program for handing out free money to farms to control run off is so out of control and has turned into total [censored]. This is just more proof of that.

We have air pollution, so cars and trucks had to meet higher emission standards. The cost to make that happen was just added to cost of cars and trucks, thus, you and I pay our own way for cleaner auto emissions.
On big trucks, the cost went up close to $30,000 per truck for those emissions, paid for by the purchaser.........

Also, until the Amish play 100% by the same rules as all other American businesses and farms! they should not be getting tax dollar funded grants handed to them.

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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 12:11 PM
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Re: Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce

I think it's a plot by the Amish Mafia to extort taxpayer dollars.

It’s funny until somebody gets hurt, then it’s hilarious
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 01:04 PM
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Re: Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce

This is part of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup program to remove nitrates and phosphates from the bay. The agreement is to fund the cleanup at farms so that developers can build more homes.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce

Kind of unfair when we put up buildings we're required to have retention and detention basins,contain the first inch of rain from entering a stream or sewer system and its all on the developers/owners dime.
Not sure if the Almish pay tax on property or income so why are they giving out money to them for this now when they have been telling them about the damage they were doing to the Chesapeake and the striped bass and shellfish industry for the past 25 years.
Sounds like by now they should be handing out fines, like they would to any other polluters,instead of grant money.

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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 02:09 PM
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Re: Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce

Just seems to me with the dramatic loss of farms and farmlands over the years the problem should be getting much much better...almost non existent? How come it aint?

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 02:29 PM
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Re: Amish farmer takes record $597,000 grant to reduce

Quote:
Originally Posted by atr
My rabbit cage has a bit of a run off with all the melting snow wonder how much that will bring me.
Maybe 1/10000000000000 or max of $5.97. That should be enough to be able to by a length of chain to keep your cage from running off

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