IF YOU RUN an agriculture operation, you may already be implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs). If you are unfamiliar with BMPs, they are measures intended to improve water quality while maintaining agricultural production, including methods to reduce fertilizers, pesticides, animal waste, and other pollutants entering our water resources. Typical practices include nutrient management, irrigation management, and water resource protection. The work required to keep your operation aligned with BMP standards can be expensive; however, there may be some financial relief offered in the form of Cost Share Programs. Provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), these funds will reimburse the cost of certain equipment and practices that support BMPs.
There are a variety of Cost Share Programs available, and they are typically determined by the region or county the agriculture operation is in. The majority of the programs offered have three rules you must meet to be considered for funding. To be eligible, the project site must be located in Florida, in regulatory compliance, and you must be enrolled in an applicable BMP program adopted by the FDACS. Since the programs are based on location, some may require that a project site be within a specific area to qualify for funding.
The first step to enroll in a BMP program is to have an FDACS staff member assist with an onsite assessment, which will not only determine what BMPs would be applicable for your property, but also if you are already implementing any BMPs. Once registered, it’s important to keep thorough records of the measures taken to support BMPs, especially when applying for and enrolling in a Cost Share Program.
Since some Cost Share Programs have varying rules on eligibility and restrictions on reimbursements, it is important to evaluate the different programs offered and determine which is best for you. To learn more about the programs offered, visit the FDACS website: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Agricultural- Water-Policy/BMP-Implementation.
column by STEVEN E. CRISMAN
BIO: Steven Crisman is the managing partner of Cross, Fernandez & Riley, LLP’s (C/F/R) Winter Haven office and leads its Agriculture Practice Group. He primarily serves the agriculture, manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution industries. He has specific experience with citrus growers, cattle ranchers, citrus and other horticultural nurseries, citrus harvesters and other support industries, as well as watermelon, blueberry, and other growers. In addition, Steve provides comprehensive tax and estate planning, attestation and business succession planning services.