Cost-Share Programs

MACS, Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program has helped farmers protect natural resources on their farms, maintain farm productivity, and comply with a growing number of federal and state environmental requirements.

The MACS program can cover up to 87.5 percent of the cost to install best management practices (BMPs) to control soil erosion, manage nutrients, and safeguard water quality in streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Cover crops planted after the fall harvest to soak up unused fertilizers, streamside buffers of grasses and trees planted to protect waterways from sedimentation and agricultural runoff, and animal waste systems designed to help farmers collect and use manure resources are among 30 BMPs currently eligible for funding.

The updated Conservation Choices for Maryland Farmers is now available for free download from MDA and includes several new best management practices that farmers can install to maintain farm production, improve soil health, safeguard water quality, provide wildlife habitat, and improve air quality.

Cover Crop 2020-2021 Program

From Md Dept of Agriculture:

Due to the wet conditions across many parts of the state, the Maryland Cover Crop Program will extend the planting date to December 1, 2020. The only species accepted for this extension will be wheat, spletz, rye, and triticale. The only planting methods allowed are No-till, Broadcast with Light, Minimum or Vertical Tillage and Conventional.

These acres may not be terminated before May 1, 2021 and will only be eligible for the base payment of $40/ac.  Farmers will need to report these acres by December 8 and these fields will be spot checked.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us through email at

Here is our flyer with details about the upcoming year’s cover crop program. Participants in the cover crop program this past year should be receiving this flyer as well as an application form in your US mail.  Here are a few details to note:

  • MDA will be US mailing the flyer and application to all current cover crop program participants – so watch your mailbox for it. 
  • Sign up for this program will be handled by mail.  Applications are to be mailed to the Charles SCD and must be postmarked by July 17. 
  • The application will also be available on the MDA website July 1.
  • A current Nutrient Management Plan Certificate must be sent in at the same time as the application.  Contact Francis Warring, UM Extension, asap if you need an update.
  • Make sure you consult the planting chart for planting incentive deadlines.  Some have changed.
  • Late termination – If there’s a chance you might terminate your cover crop May 1 or after, be sure to apply for that incentive.  MDA will make the final decision on whether there is funding enough for that incentive in February 2021.
  • Cover crop that goes in behind hemp or millet is now eligible for the program.
  • There is no rye incentive this year.
  • We suggest emailing us with a heads up when you mail your application.
  • While there is now limited staffing at the District, the office remains closed to the public until further notice.
  • You will receive an email from Dee Dee Saunders when your application is received.
  • Seeding Rate Chart for Mixes
  • Aerial Seeding Invoice

New Conservation Buffer Initiative

Sign up has ended. Stay tuned for future opportunities.

Maryland Dept. of Agriculture has developed a new conservation buffer program.  This is a pilot program that has been developed by the State in response to farmer and landowner requests.  There is a relatively short application period, so be sure to read about the program, contact our office if you have any questions, and get your application prepared and submitted during the application window.

A couple things to note:  A current Nutrient Management Plan Certification form is required, so be sure to contact Francis/your NMP writer if you do not have a current NMP Cert form.  (If you are participating in this year’s cover crop program, feel free to contact us for a copy as we likely have your current one on file.)  Those leasing land will also need to provide certification of an active lease or landowner agreement for the term of the buffer.

Further information can be found at MDA’s website

Direct Deposit of State of Maryland Payments

Should you be interested in your cover crop and all other State of Maryland payments to be issued to you by direct deposit complete this form.  Please note this will apply to any payment Maryland issues you.  To cancel or change the account in which the direct deposit of future payments is received, complete and submit the form accordingly.

Maryland Direct Deposit Form

Forms should be mailed to:

ACH Registration, General Accounting Division
Room 205, P.O. Box 746
Annapolis, Maryland 21404-0746

(or) Fax to 410-974-2309

Maryland Water Quality Trading Program

Charles County, in collaboration with the Charles Soil Conservation District (CSCD), Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), and Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), is seeking agricultural landowners with interest in participating in the Maryland Water Quality Trading Program (WQT).  Colloquially known as “Nutrient Trading”, this voluntary program creates a public market for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment reductions to enhance the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and local waters by accelerating the pace and reducing the cost of Best Management Practice implementation efforts.  To generate credits, landowners must meet baseline requirements as determined by MDA through an assessment of the current management and conservation efforts on the property.  After baseline is determined to be met, landowners then implement an approved Best Management Practice on their land that supplies a nutrient and sediment load reduction credit value into the Chesapeake Bay.  Once certified by MDA, these credits are published on Maryland’s Trading Registry, which notifies potential buyers of their availability.  Purchasing of credits is conducted through individual agreements between the buyer and seller, whereby the price is determined by the forces of supply and demand.  If you are interested in learning more about the WQT program, please visit MDE’s Water Quality Trading Program website at  If interested in participating, please send an email expressing your interest to  Please provide the best phone number for a representative to reach you to explain the details of the program.

Federal Conservation Programs Available for Cost-Share

EQIP – Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides cost-share assistance to producers for installing and maintaining conservation practices that enhance soil, water, and related natural resources, while sustaining production of food and fiber. With cost-share assistance through EQIP, producers make beneficial, cost effective changes to cropping systems, grazing management systems, waste management systems associated with livestock, and other practices on agricultural land.

WHIP – Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program is a voluntary program for people who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat primarily on private land. Through WHIP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provides both technical and cost-share assistance to establish and improve wildlife habitat. WHIP agreements between NRCS and the participant, generally last from 5-10 years from the date the agreement is signed.

AMA – Agricultural Management Assistance provides cost-share assistance to agricultural producers to voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporation conservation into their farming operations. Producers may construct or improve water management or irrigation structures; plant trees for windbreaks or to improve water quality; and mitigate risk through production diversification or resource conservation practices, including soil erosion control, integrated pest management, or transition to organic farming.

CRP – Conservation Reserve Program provides technical and financial assistance to eligible landowners to address soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on their land in the environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. CRP encourages landowners to convert highly erodible cropland and other environmentally sensitive areas to permanent cover, such as introduced or native grasses, trees, filter strips, riparian forest buffers, wetlands, and shallow water habitats.

WRP – Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary program to restore and protect wetlands on private property. It is an opportunity for landowners to enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring marginal agricultural land.

Assistance with Preparing/Submitting Paperwork is Always Free

District, MDA and USDA assistance is available one-on-one and is always free of charge in local district offices across Maryland and USDA local field offices across the country. We can explain the forms and paperwork and help farmers complete and submit what is required. Additionally, language translation is available in all USDA Service Centers, so one-on-one assistance with a Service Center employee can be translated in real time. Please help us get the word out to the Maryland farming community that USDA staff can guide farmers through the process of preparing and submitting required paperwork – there is no need to hire a paid preparer or pay a fee. One-on-one support is available at district, MDA and USDA field offices throughout Maryland.