farmers in Oregon were unable to participate in the Tillamook Bay RCWP project
because high interest rates limited cash flow, making it difficult for farmers to pay their
portion of the cost of installing BMPs. Another hindrance is the high cost of some BMPs,
such as animal waste management systems. For many dairy farmers, the maximum cost-
share payment of ,000 was insufficient to make the construction of animal waste
storage units economically feasible.
State or local cost-share assistance was offered in some projects as a supplement to
federal cost-share funds. To entice absentee landlords to participate in the RCWP,
Tennessee and Kentucky officials added 25% to the federal 75% cost-share rate for
seeding alfalfa. Producers also received an additional one-time payment of per acre
for converting cropland to pasture. Florida dairy farmers participating in the Lake
Okeechobee RCWP project received substantial subsidies from the State of Florida to
assist them in installing expensive animal waste management BMP systems.
Technology Transfer: The Importance of Information and Education
Information and education (I&E) is an essential component of any agricultural NPS
pollution control project. Information should heighten farmers' awareness of water
quality problems and approaches to solving them. Education should increase project
participation and assist farmers in selecting and maintaining appropriate BMP systems.
Strong and effective I&E programs in many of the RCWP projects (for example,
Maryland, Alabama, Nebraska, Idaho, Utah, Vermont, Florida, and Oregon) contributed
to high producer participation and, consequently, to water quality improvements.
I&E must begin prior to land-based project activities in order to foster a sense of problem
and project ownership on the part of the potential project participants. Delaware and Iowa
RCWP project personnel reported that both pre-project meetings to discuss the water
quality problem and producer involvement in project planning helped develop strong
support for and participation in the project by area farmers.
The most effective way to increase producer participation is one-to-one contact between
project personnel and farmers.
On-farm demonstrations can be used effectively to educate farmers about new
technologies. Producer participation was increased in the Maryland RCWP project
through on-farm demonstrations of BMP installation and maintenance.
To control agricultural runoff, producers must implement additional, often new, BMPs.
Technical assistance must help participants with new BMPs, whether the BMPs are
structural or managerial. In the Oregon RCWP project, Natural Resource Conservation
Service personnel had to modify animal waste storage systems for high-rainfall
conditions. Extension Service personnel in Pennsylvania developed nutrient management
plans for individual farmers and taught them how to implement the plans. These technical