Delta asked for $200,000 to fund farm programs

The Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust has upped its request for financial assistance from the city.

Established in 1993, the trust has ongoing grassland set-aside and winter cover crop programs, which provide habitat for migratory and resident bird species as well as enhance soil fertility and contribute to research projects.

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The organization has been getting funding from several sources, including an annual $15,000 grant from the city’s Delta Wildlife Forage Fund. That fund ran out of cash last year but the city continued to provide funding.

However, the trust is now asking for another $200,000 from Delta, which would work out to $50,000 per year for four years.

In a recent letter to Delta council, program manager Drew Bondar stated the group is requesting the establishment of a multi-year funding agreement to support the grassland set-aside, winter cover crop and forage enhancement stewardship programs as well as outreach, research and administration.

He noted the forage enhancement pilot program was initiated two years ago to assist forage producers with increasing levels of damage to their fields as a result of waterfowl grazing over the winter.

“Forage producers experience some of the highest costs associated with waterfowl depredation. Some farmers are now having to re-seed their forage fields annually as a result of the severe level of grazing costing upwards of $350 to $500 an acre. Through this new program, DF&WT will be sharing in the costs associated with over and re-seeding forage fields due to waterfowl grazing in order to support the continued provision of these high-valued fields both for dairy cattle feed as well as waterfowl foraging habitat.”

Bondar also noted that to ensure the stewardship programs remain viable, it’s important that cost-share rates are at a level sufficient to promote enrollment. Last year the trust increased its rate for grassland set-asides, noting interest in the last couple of years had been waning as it became apparent the cost share was no longer sufficient to justify participation. The increase is estimated to cost an additional $50,000 to $60,000 annually.

Council last week agreed to refer the request to the city’s agricultural advisory committee.

The trust recently received $20,000 from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.  

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