NRCS Accepting Applications for Conservation Funds

From USDA. Note that part of the funding is reserved for organic producers, certified or not:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications to help producers improve water and air quality, build healthier soil, improve grazing and forest lands, conserve energy, enhance organic operations, and achieve other environmental benefits.

NRCS has directed more than $11 million in financial assistance for fiscal 2013 to help Illinois producers implement conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the agency’s largest Farm Bill conservation program. Interested producers should visit their local NRCS service center for information on EQIP sign-up periods. “The Environmental Quality Incentives Program offers farmers, ranchers and forestland managers a variety of options to conserve natural resources while boosting production on their lands,” State Conservationist Ivan Dozier said. “These funds are a conservation investment that helps improve environmental health and the economy of Illinois’ rural communities.”

EQIP provides financial assistance for a variety of conservation activities, such as grassed waterways, waste storage facilities, field, field buffers, rotational grazing systems and much more. The next applications cutoffs in Illinois are January 18, March 15, and May 17, 2013.

Additionally, NRCS offers special initiatives through EQIP, including:

  • On-Farm Energy Initiative: helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
  • Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative: helps producers install high tunnels to extend the growing season into the cold months, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature and conserve water and energy.
  • Organic Initiative: helps producers install conservation practices on certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.
  • Air Quality Initiative: helps producers address air quality concerns by establishing conservation practices such as cover crops, windbreaks, nutrient management and other conservation measures that mitigate and prevent air quality problems.

To participate in EQIP, an applicant must be an individual, entity or joint operation that meets EQIP eligibility criteria. Applicants can sign up at their local NRCS service center. For more information about EQIP or other technical or financial assistance programs offered by NRCS, please contact your local service center: