HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania agricultural producers are encouraged to apply for technical and financial assistance to improve and enhance natural resources on their farm and forest land. Funding is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Agricultural Management Assistance program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The first application cutoff date for fiscal year 2019 is Oct. 19 for both EQIP and AMA.
Assistance is available to help farmers and forest landowners plan and implement conservation practices to improve water and air quality, build healthier soil, improve grazing and forest lands, conserve energy, enhance organic operations, and achieve other environmental benefits. Popular practices include waste storage structures, heavy use area pads, energy, cover crops, irrigation water management, poultry windbreaks and more.
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 designed 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 to install conservation practices on certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.
NRCS conservationists will work with producers to develop a conservation plan on their land to identify concerns and opportunities, help determine objectives and recommend solutions. “Our high-quality comprehensive conservation plans can provide farmers with step-by-step recommendations they can use to improve their water quality, soil health and more — all while reducing input costs,” said Denise Coleman, Pennsylvania NRCS State Conservationist.
NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at application cut-off deadlines. Pennsylvania producers with applications in before Oct. 19 will have a higher chance of application approval as funding is limited. Applications received after that date will be accepted and considered for funding in the second ranking in December, if funds remain.
To participate in USDA conservation programs, applicants should be farmers or farm or forest landowners and must meet eligibility criteria. To take advantage of NRCS technical assistance and expertise or federally funded conservation on your farm or land, please contact your local USDA NRCS Field Office (found at offices.sc.egov.usda.gov), or visit our website at www.pa.nrcs.usda.gov for applications and program information.
— USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service