FARMS resources:

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Water Policy (OAWP) web site

FARMS is a cost-share reimbursement program for agricultural projects that benefit the environment.

The Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) Program is an agricultural best management practice (BMP) cost-share reimbursement program that involves both water quantity and water quality aspects. This public/private partnership program was developed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The purpose of the FARMS Program is to implement production-scale agricultural BMP projects that will provide resource benefits that include water quality improvement, reduction of Upper Floridan aquifer withdrawals and/or conservation, restoration or augmentation of the area’s water resources and ecology.

FARMS is intended to assist in the implementation of the SWFWMD’s Regional Water Supply Plan, SWUCA Recovery Strategy, the Dover/Plant City Freeze Management Plan and Shell Creek and Prairie Creek Watersheds Management Plan and is designed to serve as an incentive to the agricultural community to install and maintain irrigation BMPs that will promote surface water and groundwater resource sustainability. Click here to view the 2008-10 Performance Monitoring Summary:

The overall goal of the program is to offset 40 million gallons of ground water per day within the District’s Southern Water Use Caution Area (SWUCA) by the year 2025 and to offset 180 million gallons per day per freeze event in the Dover/Plant City Water use Caution Area (DPCWUCA) by the year 2020, as well as achieve groundwater offsets in other areas of the District as opportunities arise. As of January 2013, there are 102 operational FARMS projects, and 64 additional projects have been Board-approved and are in the contract development or construction stage. The 166 total Board-approved projects are projected to have a groundwater offset of 24.5 million gallons of water per day District-wide and 22.8 million gallons per day for the 120 Board-approved projects within the SWUCA. The projected offset for the 25 Board-approved Frost-Freeze Protection projects (post-January 2010) within the DPCWUCA is 48.4 million gallons per day per freeze event.

To meet the objectives of the FARMS Program, the District enters into a voluntary public/private contractual partnership with an agricultural entity and will share the cost of implementing production-scale agricultural BMPs. Project cost-share rates are generally capped at 50 percent for projects with BMPs that will provide either water quality or water quantity benefits and at 75 percent for projects that incorporate both water quality and quantity benefits. Participants are required to enter into a contractual agreement with the District that will last from five-to-twenty years in duration. Contractual lifetime is based on the type of project, the service life of the components, and specified cost-benefit ratios provided in the District’s 2001 Regional Water Supply Plan (RWSP). To document the effectiveness of the BMP performance, the monitoring of water quality discharge, and/or the recording of flow meter readings of surface and ground water will occur for the duration of each FARMS contract.

FARMS Program staff works closely with individual farmers and farm corporations to help them develop appropriate BMPs. FARMS staff will conduct site visits, secure a contract with the grower, manage construction activities, and coordinate all administrative and financial aspects of reimbursement to the grower. Staff’s involvement with the participant continues long after construction is over. They work with the grower during the operational phase to document the net improvement to water resources.

In addition to working with agricultural water users, FARMS staff regularly meets with agricultural specialists with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), FDACS, and the District’s own regulatory offices to coordinate proposed projects. The coordination and cooperation among federal and state agencies is a key component to this program and has proven to be beneficial to the agricultural community and the water resources of the District.

For more information on how to receive cost-share funding to implement alternative supply or increased irrigation efficiency projects on agricultural properties through FARMS, please see the attached documents or contact FARMS Program staff at left.

Key FARMS guidelines

  1. Projects are located within the boundaries of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
  2. Recipients will be required to fund the project then request reimbursement for approved expenditures.
  3. Reimbursement rates are generally 50 percent for water quantity reduction or water quality improvement BMPs; and 75 percent for projects that incorporate both water quality and quantity benefits, or reduce withdrawals of permitted quantities from the Upper Floridan aquifer by 50% or more.
  4. Projects must provide one or more resource benefits that include: water quality improvement; reduction of Floridan aquifer withdrawals; improvement of natural system functions within the Upper Myakka River watershed.
  5. All proposals will include a site visit consisting of a SWFWMD FARMS representative.
  6. Funding is limited and subject to available fiscal year funding.
  7. Typically, a minimum five-year contract will be required for approved projects, dependent upon the type of project, the service life of the project components and cost-benefit ratio.
  8. Applications are accepted through the SWFWMD Sarasota Service Office. Contact SWFWMD FARMS staff for further information.
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