Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and Representative Peter Welch (D) Wednesday announced the University of Vermont Extension program received two grants totaling over $650,000 for agricultural research.
The grant announcement is the most recent step in implementing the 2014 Farm Bill. Leahy, the senior most member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, was a conferee on the bill.
The grants will be used to study soil quality on Vermont farms, focusing on sustainable practices while preventing soil erosion and improving crop productivity. One study will focus on the impact of management practices, such as cover cropping and no-till farming, on reducing soil compaction. A second study will develop and study cover crop strategies for Vermont and northern climates to help maintain and improve soil productivity and reduce soil compaction.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: "The 2014 Farm Bill continues to have a tangible benefit here in Vermont, and the UVM Extension program is a leader in agricultural research. We are pleased to see new support for their research into sustainable agricultural practices. Building and protecting our soil is the foundation of a strong farming system in Vermont, and critical in our work to protect Lake Champlain. UVM Extension is helping us understand and improve our conservation strategies."
The grants are part of the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program funded with Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) money through the 2014 Farm Bill. CIG funding aims to stimulate development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies that enhance and protect the environment and boost agricultural production. The grants are shared with the State Agricultural College in New York.