USDA announces conservation incentive program extension

Tribune staff reports

United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service recently announced an extension of the cutoff in Indiana for new applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for fiscal year 2016.

Though applications are accepted continuously, eligible agricultural producers and forest landowners interested in being considered for funding may submit applications to NRCS by Jan. 22.

State conservationist Jane Hardisty said in a news release that the extension is an effort to make it possible for more farmers and forest landowners to apply for this important Farm Bill conservation program.

Many applicants have shown interest in the program to help them improve soil health and address soil erosion, air and water quality, wildlife habitat and other resource concerns on cropland, forestland, pastureland and livestock areas, Hardisty said.

In addition to conservation practices, such as cover crops, no-till, manure storage structures and fencing, the program provides funding for the development of plans, such as comprehensive nutrient management, grazing, drainage water management and others.

Landscape and special initiatives, where NRCS sets aside financial assistance for specific practices and producers, are included in the extension.

There also are several EQIP special initiatives included in the extension, where NRCS sets aside financial assistance for specific practices and producers. Special initiatives include practices that improve on-farm energy, assist in the organic transition process, add wildlife habitat and target certain practices, such as seasonal high tunnels.

Indiana NRCS also sets aside approximately 10 percent of the Indiana EQIP financial assistance program for historically underserved participants, which include beginning farmers, socially disadvantage farmers, limited resource producers and military veteran farmers and ranchers.

For information, visit nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or contact your district conservationist at nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/contact/local.