Ways Conservation Pays On Your Dairy Farm

Farm Vitality Planning Program

The PA Bureau of Farmland Preservation is now accepting applications for round 2 of its Farm Vitality Planning Grants. These grants are available to assist farmers with developing business, transition and succession plans and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

As a reimbursement grant, each grant can be used to reimburse up to 75 percent of eligible costs, not to exceed $7,500. A total of $1,000,000 has been made available. Applications will be accepted until funds are exhausted. 

More information can be found at PA Department of Agriculture Farm Vitality Planning Grant, including a link to the Single Application for Assistance (application), a step-by-step guide for applying, list of eligible/ineligible costs and additional resources. 


The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) has several farm-based research opportunities available for farmers to learn more about your farm’s natural resources. Their website has detailed descriptions of the programs available and some offer compensation for participation.

Soil Health Benchmark Study

The Soil Health Benchmark study lets farmers comprehensively assess the health of their soils, and see how their soil health data compares to the data of their peers. If you own or manage a farm in Pennsylvania and are passionate about improving your soil health, you are eligible to participate (row crop, pastured livestock, and vegetable producers). You can choose to participate for only one year to better understand the current state of your soil health, or participate for multiple years to track changes to your soil health over time.

Pastured Livestock Land & Feed Efficiency Study

The Pastured Livestock Land & Feed Efficiency study provides farmers a detailed benchmark report showing how your land and feed efficiency compares to peer farms as well as a learning community of farmers working to boost production and cut costs. If you own or manage a pastured livestock farm in Pennsylvania or surrounding states, you’re eligible to participate in the study. To participate, you’ll need to share your production records for acres grazed or pastured, animals produced, hanging weights or meat yields, and feed purchased for each animal type on their farm.

Diversified Vegetable Financial Benchmark Study

The Diversified Vegetable Financial Benchmark study will provide vegetable famers with a detailed benchmark report that shows how key financial indicators for your farm compare against similar farms in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic region. If you own or manage a commercial diversified vegetable farm in Pennsylvania or surrounding states, and you sell at least some of your produce through direct-to-consumer markets, you’re eligible to participate in the study and receive a $100 stipend in exchange for a 90 minute survey.

Grazing Dairy Footprint Study

PASA has partnered with the USDA Agricultural Research Service to conduct whole-farm environmental and economic assessments of grazing dairy farms in the Grazing Dairy Footprint study. The partnership allows them to assess sales and gross profits per cow and per pound of milk. It also assesses a range of environmental indicators including nitrogen and phosphorus losses to the environment, fossil fuel consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. Grazers will be provided a benchmark report comparing your farms footprint to peer farms and Pennsylvania industry standards and an environmental and economic assessment of your “what-if” scenario. If you own or manage a commercial grazing dairy in Pennsylvania or surrounding states, you’re eligible to participate in the study and receive a $100 stipend compensation.