Delaware farmers may apply for conservation assistance
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications from Delaware farmers and forest landowners who want to further enhance the sustainability of their land. Farmers can apply now for financial assistance to address natural resource concerns through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Agricultural Management Assistance program. The first application cutoff date for fiscal year 2017 is Friday, Oct. 21, for both EQIP and AMA.
Assistance is available through EQIP to help farmers plan and implement conservation practices to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. Popular practices include waste storage structures, heavy use area pads, energy, cover crops, irrigation water management and more. Delaware has also placed an emphasis on several EQIP initiatives including the Organic Initiative and High Tunnel in FY 2017 by setting aside separate funding pools for each.
In FY 2016, Delaware approved 189 EQIP contracts for a total of $7.9 million. AMA provides assistance to agricultural producers to voluntarily address issues such as water quality, water management and erosion control through identified conservation practices. These include, but are not limited to, nutrient management, cover crops, poultry windbreaks, proper manure storage, composters and conservation cover. NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at application cut-off deadlines.
Producers with applications in before Oct. 21 will have a higher chance of application approval as funding is limited. Additional application cutoff dates are scheduled for the third Friday of each month until May 19, 2017. Eligible producers with a conservation plan for their operation receive priority for financial assistance. NRCS staff is available to help producers create conservation plans. For more information for Sussex County farmers, call 302-856-3990, Ext 3 or go to www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.