Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) is a voluntary, incentive-based program available to all farmers through their local Soil and Water Conservation District. AEM supports common-sense, cost-effective, and science-based decisions to meet farm goals while protecting and conserving New York‘s natural resources. By participating in AEM, farmers can document their environmental stewardship and further advance their positive contributions to their communities, our food and bio-systems, the economy, and the environment.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee administer the AEM framework and associated funding programs at the state-level and Soil and Water Conservation Districts lead AEM at the local-level with farmers and conservation partners. Altogether, over a third of all farms in the state participate in AEM.
To start or continue with AEM , farmers connect with their local Soil and Water Conservation District to progress through the confidential, AEM conservation tiers, below:
- Tier 1 – Inventory current activities, interests, and potential environmental concerns of the farmer.
- Tier 2 – Document current environmental stewardship and assess and prioritize areas of concern.
- Tier 3 – Develop conservation plans addressing concerns and opportunities tailored to farm goals.
- Tier 4 – Implement plans using available educational, technical, and financial assistance.
- Tier 5 – Evaluate practices and plans for conservation and farm viability.
Local Soil and Water Conservation District contacts can be found here.
Funding for technical assistance and Tier 4 implementation is available through:
- Agricultural Non-point Source Abatement and Control
- Climate Resilient Farming
- Ecosystem Based Management Program
- Source Water Buffer Program
- And other local, state, and federal cost share opportunities
2022 AEM-Leopold award winner Greenfield Farm.
2021 AEM-Leopold award winner Table Rock Farm
2020 AEM-Leopold award winner Sang Lee Farms.
2019 AEM award winner Whey Street Dairy
2018 AEM award winner Lakewood Farm and Lakewood Vineyards
2017 AEM award winner Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm
2016 AEM award winner Tom Wickham of Wickham's Fruit Farm
2015 AEM award winner McMahon’s E-Z Acres Farm
2014 AEM award winner Tre-G Farms
A complete set of Tier 1 and 2 worksheets are linked on the AEM Resource Page. AEM Tiers 1 and 2 are designed to inventory current farm activities and interests and document environmental stewardship and opportunities for improvement. AEM Tiers 1 and 2 are guided by farm-tested, science-based worksheets, based on conversations between farmers and conservation planners, and take a whole farm view.
Additional AEM resources are linked below.
The Agricultural and Environmental Management Program links farmers with local conservation professionals to identify existing environmental stewardship, address natural resource concerns, and enhance farm viability. For qualifying farms, participation in AEM may also help promote farm products through New York State Grown & Certified.
Current New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee Agricultural Best Management Practice (BMP) Systems Catalogue, the guiding document for best management practices available through Soil and Water Conservation Committee cost share programs.
Contact the AEM Team
Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District to get involved. Soil and Water Conservation District contacts can be found here.