Otsego County’s agricultural community is one of the Districts oldest and strongest partners. The District has every interest in keeping Otsego County’s farmers as a vibrant and important part of the County’s economy while helping them become better stewards of their environment.
The principal way in which the District can help farmers achieve these goals is through the Agricultural Environmental Management program or AEM.
The AEM program is funded by New York State through the Department of Agriculture and Market’s State Soil and Water Conservation Committee. AEM is a voluntary program that has attracted over 400 Otsego County farmers that are interested in meeting their business goals while protecting and conserving our County’s precious natural resources.
While the County’s AEM Five Year Strategic Plan is a dynamic document that it revised annually to suit the changing conditions inside Otsego County, the basic format of the program is well established and unlikely to change.
In general, interested farmers work with District Staff to develop comprehensive farm plans and implement Best Management Practices (BMP’s) using a tiered process:
• Tier 1 – Inventory current activities, future plans and environmental concerns.
• Tier 2 – Document current land stewardship; assess and prioritize areas of concern.
• Tier 3 – Identify BMP’s and develop conservation plans that address concerns and opportunities tailored to farm goals.
• Tier 4 – Implement plans utilizing available financial and technical assistance.
• Tier 5 – Evaluate to ensure the protection of the environment and farm viability
Typically, it takes approximately three years to get from the Tier 1 & 2 inventories, through the Tier 3 planning and Tier 4 funding and implementation phases, to end at the Tier 5 evaluation.
If you own or operate an agricultural operation and are interested in the Otsego County SWCD AEM program or if your operation is already enrolled in the program and you would like to proceed to the next Tier, please do not hesitate to call the office and enroll today.