The Conservation Excellence Grant Program
The purpose of the Conservation Excellence Grant Program (CEG Program), created by Act 39 of 2019, is to provide financial and technical assistance for the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) on agricultural operations in high-priority locations within the Commonwealth through grants, loans and tax credits, or a combination of all three.
The CEG Program is administered by the State Conservation Commission. In FY 2019-20, the Commission will be partnering with the Lancaster and York County Conservation Districts for local implementation of the CEG Program.
Applicants can apply for a CEG Program grant at their County Conservation District.
A single grant awarded by the conservation district to an eligible applicant may not exceed $250,000. Small grants are also available for any BMP project under $25,000. Grants will be awarded based on priority criteria established by law and Commission guidelines.
CEG Program Priority Criteria
Priority locations as follows and in this order:
- Tier 1 (Lancaster and York)
- Tier 2 (Bedford, Centre, Cumberland, Franklin and Lebanon) and Tier 3 (Adams, Bradford, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder, Susquehanna and Tioga)
- All Other Counties
Note: The priority locations above are those designated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection as part of Pennsylvania's Chesapeake Bay Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan.
Priority BMPs as follows (in no particular order):
- Livestock exclusion fencing.
- Stream-side buffers.
- Streambank restoration.
- Barnyard and feedlot runoff abatement.
- Stream crossings.
- Off-stream watering.
- Manure storage facilities.
- Nutrient management plans and manure management plans.
- Conservation plans or agricultural erosion and sedimentation plans.
- Cover crops.
- Any other priority practices approved by the Commission.
These practices (BMPs) may include those BMPs currently identified in the CEG/REAP Best Management Practice List provided by the Commission.
The level and extent of planning and technical assistance, such as inventory and evaluation, design work, permits and similar types of assistance, already completed in preparation for implementation of the project. Technical assistance should allow for accurate estimates of project costs and for completion of the project in a timely fashion.
The extent to which an applicant is willing to accept a reasonable mix of grants ( e.g. CEG or other), loans (e.g. AgriLink or other commercial loan) and tax credits (e.g. REAP) or to supply nongovernmental matching funds for the project.
Eligible CEG Project Costs
- Project design engineering and associated planning
- Project construction or installation – including labor provided by the applicant
- Equipment, materials and other components of eligible projects
- Post construction inspections
Any of the above costs for services that may be provided by a Conservation District or private sector technical service provider through a fee or charge are eligible costs and may be included in the CEG project application.
An eligible applicant may be reimbursed for the cost of the project up to the allowable grant amount permitted under the CEG program. Any project costs that are not covered with CEG grant funds may be eligible for REAP tax credits. These project costs are eligible for tax credits up to 50% or 75% of eligible costs depending on the type of BMP and according to REAP guidelines.