The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will begin accepting applications for the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) farm conservation tax-credit program on August 6. Ten million is available for FY 2018–19 tax credits in this first-come, first-served program. The tax credits can help those in production agriculture offset the costs of implementing best management practices (BMPs) like planting forested stream buffers or purchasing on-farm conservation equipment.
Farmers may receive tax credits of up to $150,000 per agricultural operation for 50 to 75 percent of the project’s cost. The most commonly approved projects are for no-till planting and precision ag equipment, waste storage facilities, conservation plans, nutrient management plans, and protecting barnyards and other areas with animals. Cover crops and riparian stream buffers are also popular REAP-eligible practices.
REAP can be used in conjunction with other funding sources, such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) or the Chesapeake Bay Program to help install BMPs.
For projects that include the proposed purchase of equipment, the equipment must be delivered by June 30, 2019. For projects involving the implementation of structural BMPs, all BMPs and BMP components must be complete by June 30, 2020 to be eligible.
There are several new elements to the FY 2018-19 REAP Program:
Cover Crops: Farmers can now apply for up to 3 years of proposed cover crop plantings. In addition, applicants are eligible to receive credits on the same acreage more than once. Applicants are no longer required to provide detailed field-level maps of where the crops are planted.
Riparian Forested Buffer Maintenance: Maintenance activities such as replanting, mowing, and herbicide treatments are now eligible for REAP credits. Applicants must fill out the REAP Riparian Buffer Maintenance Worksheet (p.15 of the REAP application) and provide details regarding other public funding (if applicable).
Legacy Sediment: The Commission is interested in getting involved in a legacy sediment project in 2018-19. It is looking for an opportunity to test how REAP could potentially help install water quality BMPs involved in a remediation project.
Low-Disturbance Residue Management Equipment (Vertical Tillage): Modified vertical tillage equipment is not eligible for REAP tax credits. The REAP guidelines pertaining to this equipment remain the same. However, equipment that has modified to meet the guidelines will not be accepted.
The program is administered by State Conservation Commission, which provides support and oversight to the state’s 66 county conservation districts.
Since the program began in 2007, REAP has awarded tax credits to more than 4,800 projects totaling more than $68 million. Public and private investments in REAP have contributed to the conservation projects, worth more than $165 million.
The 2017-18 REAP application packet, as well as other information about REAP, is available on Agriculture’s Resource Enhancement and Protection webpage or by contacting Joel Semke at 717-705-4032 or firstname.lastname@example.org.