EAST LANSING, Nov. 12, 2015 – Farmers and forest owners are encouraged to submit applications for U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation assistance by Dec. 18, 2015. Conservation financial assistance is available for implementing a wide variety of practices to reduce soil erosion, improve wildlife habitat, protect water quality and manage private forest land.
“USDA conservation programs help farmers and private forest owners protect the resources we all share, including our lakes and rivers, wildlife and the air we breathe,” said USDA State Conservationist Garry Lee.
Conservation financial assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Complete applications received by Dec. 18, will be ranked and considered for fiscal year 2016 funding. Financial assistance is available for implementing designated conservation practices such as windbreaks, nutrient management plans, cover crops, forest management plans, crop residue and tillage management, animal waste storage facilities and many others. Applications are ranked and selected for funding on a competitive basis.
During fiscal year 2015, Michigan farmers and forest owners received over $12 million in conservation financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. A portion of USDA conservation funding is targeted to state-level conservation priorities. These include funds for farmers seeking Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program verification, water quality practices in the Western Lake Erie Basin, high tunnel systems in Wayne County, honey bee habitat, organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production, and energy conservation.
Conservation activities receiving financial assistance must be part of an agricultural or forest operation’s conservation plan. Producers should work with their local NRCS or conservation district staff to develop a conservation plan before applying for the program. Successful applicants enter into a contract with NRCS to implement conservation activities and are reimbursed for a portion of the cost.
NRCS provides higher levels of financial assistance for beginning farmers and historically underserved producers. More information about conservation financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program is available at local NRCS offices and online at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov.