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Federal funds to help farmers, foresters conserve land

Agricultural operators and forest landowners interested in adding technology or techniques that foster conservation have a new window to apply for federal funding to offset costs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued the following press release with details on eligibility and applying for funding:

Funding Helps Florida Ag Producers Improve Working Lands

Application Deadline Feb. 3 for Conservation Stewardship Program

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Nov. 14, 2016 — Agricultural producers can sign up for funding now until Feb. 3 available through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Agricultural producers and forest landowners can earn incentive payments from CSP for expanding conservation activities on their land, such as cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat. CSP encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new approaches such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality. The program also offers bundles, where a producer can select a suite of enhancements to implement and receive an even higher payment rate. All CSP contracts will have a minimum annual payment of $1,500.

NRCS has made several updates to the program this year to help producers better assess the conservation options and benefits to their operations and natural resources.

“This year, the Conservation Stewardship Program provides even more opportunities for conservation and greater flexibility at the local level to prioritize resource concerns,” said Russell Morgan, NRCS Florida state conservationist.

New methods and software for evaluating applications will help producers see how they are meeting stewardship thresholds and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. Producers can expect to see nearly double the enhancements and conservation practices offered and better reporting tools projecting the results of their conservation efforts. These new tools also allow producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.

Information about CSP, including national and state ranking questions and enhancement descriptions, is available on the national website or visit your local NRCS field office.

This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately.

The local NRCS office can be reached by phone at 941-444-3143 or email to Israel Vega (district conservationist) at israel.vega-marrero@fl.usda.gov. The street address is 6942 Professional Parkway East in Sarasota.

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