At the end of November, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced ranking dates for three conservation initiatives : organic, seasonal high tunnels, and on-farm energy conservation initiatives. All offer financial and technical assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).
NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year, but is moving to a multiple cut-off dates to better assist producers. There will be three ranking periods for the Organic, On-Farm Energy and Seasonal High Tunnel initiatives, all ending on February 3, March 30 and June 1, 2012. At the end of a ranking period, NRCS ranks all submitted proposals for funding consideration. NRCS will notify all applicants of the results of the rankings and begin developing contracts with selected applicants.
Organic Initiative: NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production.
Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative: NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures, that extend growing seasons. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and better air quality due to fewer vehicles being needed to transport crops. More than 4,000 high tunnels have been planned and implemented nationwide through this initiative over the past two years. Unlike past years in Kansas, this initiative is no longer limited to organic or transitioning organic producers, but is open to all producers.
On-Farm Energy Initiative: NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations.
Contact the NRCS office near you for application information.