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Agricultural Environmental Management - AEM

The Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District is participating in the state wide Agricultural Environmental Management program (AEM), which assesses water quality as it relates to agriculture. The AEM program identifies farmers needs based on the information provided by the farmers. The results of this survey are confidential by the New York State Law, and will be used to secure funds to assist Ulster County farmers with the best management practices. If you have any questions, please contact Jake Wedemeyer at (845) 883-7162, ext. 6082 or at

  • The Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District (UCSWCD) and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service have been implementing Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) since 1997.

  • AEM is a tool to assess farmer's needs as they relate to water quality.

  • Tier I and Tier II questionnaires are completed with farmers to identify farmers operation types and environmental risks.

    • Tier I: Identifies operation type, animal numbers, acreage in production and basic farm practices.

    • All information provided to the UCSWCD and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service is CONFIDENTIAL by New York State Law. AEM Tier I and Tier II questionnaires cannot be FOILed.

  • Based on information provided by AEM Tier I and Tier II questionnaires, agricultural best management practices, such as drainage, fencing, manure storage, underground irrigation conveyance, etc. are identified.

  • Tier II: Identifies environmental risks based on farm operation and practices.

  • AEM Tier III is the vehicle obtain State and Federal cost share funding.

    • Tier IIIA is a conservation plan that is a record of the farmer's decisions and supporting information for the conservation treatment of a unit of land (i.e. a field). For example, a farmer addresses the need for sub-surface drainage in a wet field that has frequent manure applications.

    • Tier IIIB addresses conservation plans that are specific to animal feeding operations (Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans- CNMP) and crop farms (Nutrient Management Plans- NMP).

    • Tier IIIC is a conservation plan that addresses all of the soil, water, air, plant, animal and human-social concerns and opportunities across all land uses and fields on the farm. Many farms in Ulster County have a Whole Farm Plan, and have implemented a schedule on conservation practices based on the Whole Farm Plan.

  • The AEM process helps support applying for State and Federal funding cost sharing for best management practices.

    • The State and Federal government pay up to 75 percent for agricultural best management practices.

    • The landowner usually contributes 25 percent out of pocket and/or in-kind contribution.

  • Power is in numbers: the more farmers who participate in the AEM process, the better the chance for cost share implementation dollars. Ulster County is competing state wide for funding to help assist farmers with the AEM process.

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