USDA Helps Ag Producers Conserve Natural Resources

Application Deadline is Dec. 21

Florida farmers, ranchers and forest owners can apply until Dec. 21 for financial and technical assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for fiscal year 2019 funding. Although applications are accepted on a continuous basis for all conservation programs, funding selections are typically made once a year.

Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements. Using these conservation practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations.

The list of conservation practices are numerous and diverse, from designing watering facilities and heavy use areas for ranchers that reduce compaction and nutrient runoff; to irrigation and tail water recovery for blueberry farmers to ensure efficient water use.

All that is required is that the land be in production for an agricultural resource and that the land owner voluntarily contact the local NRCS office to establish a relationship and begin the process. From there the district conservation staff will help producers navigate the application process and begin to develop a conservation plan.

Through EQIP, agricultural landowners may receive financial and technical assistance to improve soil, water, air, plants, animals and related resources. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, private non-industrial forestland and other farm or ranch lands. The application deadline also applies to the following EQIP-funded initiatives:

Begin by visiting your local NRCS field office serving Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte counties (contact District Conservationist Israel Vega-Marrero at 941-907-0011 ext 3143 or israel.vega-marrero@fl.usda.gov) and requesting help developing a conservation plan. To learn about technical and financial assistance available from NRCS, go to Getting Started with NRCS.

Feature photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.