Farmers who shoulder the cost of protecting their crops from deer can get help to pay for fences, from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

(photo: SteveOehlenschlager, Thinkstock)

The departments Development Committee is setting aside $500,000 in cost sharing grants for crop growers during fiscal 2017.

Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher relates that annual crop losses stemming from deer grazing amounts to several million dollars.

"This new program will provide matching funds to help farmers install fencing to protect their crops while furthering the public's investment in farmland preservation by helping to maximize the agricultural productivity of the land," Fisher said in prepared comments.

The program allows for 50-percent matching grants to qualifying, established farmers, toward costs of fencing and installation. Grant awards can reach as high as $200 per acre of preserved farmland owned, or $20,000 total.

Click here to see the State Agriculture Development Committee's deer-fencing policy and to download an application.

The deadline for consideration in this year's allocations is March 23, 2017.

Funds, pending approval by the state Legislature, are culled from state farmland preservation money, allocated to promote cultivation and stewardship of preserved farmland.

Qualifying criteria include deer density per square mile; crop type; hunting status on the acreage and adjacent properties; and applicant's military status. State officials will rank and prioritize applications along these guidelines.

Farmers who served in the military since September 11, 2001, and who were honorably discharged and released, are awarded additional points on applications.

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