The Delta Conservation District (DCD) will host informational meetings for this year's announced funding opportunities through the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs.
NRCS conservation planner Amanda Ewing and wildlife biologist Tanya Banulis will present the various NRCS programs.
Authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, these programs will provide financial and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and private landowners to promote agricultural production and environmental quality and better manage soil, water, and other natural resources under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). Applications are accepted on a continuous basis from interested landowners. However, all completed applications received by Jan. 15 will be batched and ranked for fiscal year 2012 General EQIP and WHIP funding.
For an application to be considered complete, all land and producer eligibility requirements must have been met and a conservation plan identifying conservation practices must be finalized for the enrolled land to be included for proposed funding. These informational meetings are an opportunity to learn more about the programs offered in the Delta Conservation District and to obtain assistance in processing the initial application.
Four national initiatives will be available with fiscal year 2012 EQIP funds. These include the following initiatives: Organic, Seasonal High Tunnel, On-Farm Energy, and Air Quality. NRCS will offer two ranking periods for the Air Quality Initiative: Feb. 3, 2012, and March 30, 2012. The Organic, Seasonal High Tunnel, and On-Farm Energy initiatives will offer three ranking periods: Feb. 3, March 30, and June 1.
The Organic Initiative Farm Bill helps producers of all commodities with financial and technical assistance to reach their conservation goals, including producers transitioning to organic farming as well as currently certified organic producers. NRCS assists producers in meeting the requirements needed for The National Organic Program certification in addition to maintaining existing organic certification.
Colorado is part of a three-year Seasonal High Tunnel pilot program and this coming year marks the third and final year of this pilot. The goal is to increase the availability of locally-grown produce in a conservation-friendly way. During the pilot period, eligible agricultural producers may apply for financial assistance for seasonal high tunnels. Seasonal high tunnels are structures made of plastic or metal pipe and covered with plastic or other sheeting. Easy to build, maintain and move, they provide an energy-efficient way to extend the growing season. Unlike greenhouses, they require no energy, relying on natural sunlight to modify the climate inside to create favorable conditions for growing vegetables and other specialty crops. Participating farms can receive funding for a maximum area of 2,178 square feet (approximately 30 feet x 72 feet) per farming operation.
The on-farm Energy Initiative places emphasis on providing technical and financial assistance to producers who want to reduce the use of fossil fuel energy by planning and implementing practices that improve energy efficiency, utilize renewable energy and sustain production.
The Air Quality initiative assists agricultural producers with reducing ozone precursor (oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds) emissions from agricultural sources. The primary goal is to achieve and maintain the National Air Quality Standards within the designated nonattainment areas of Colorado. NRCS provides payments to participants implementing conservation practices on their lands that benefit air quality.
Additionally, the presentation will give an overview of the EQIP and Basin States Salinity Programs. These programs help landowners to improve their ease of operation and maximize yield while protecting and improving the environment and reducing the salinity flow into the Colorado River. Financial and technical assistance is made available to make improvements such as underground pipeline, micro-irrigation for orchards and vineyards, sprinkler systems, gated pipeline and tree, shrub and grass planting for wildlife habitat improvement.
Brief discussion will be held on the Sage Grouse and Colorado Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiatives as well as the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
The 2008 Farm Bill provides additional incentives for farmers and ranchers who are just beginning, have limited resources, or who are socially disadvantaged because they belong to racial or ethnic groups that have been historically subjected to prejudice. Such farmers can receive up to 90 percent of the costs associated with planning and implementing conservation measures; up to 30 percent of expected costs may be provided in advance.
If you would like to learn more about the funding opportunities as a farmer, rancher or private landowner and receive assistance in the application process, plan to join us at one of these meetings. The first meeting will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 11, from 6-7:30 p.m. and again on Thursday, Jan. 12, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the USDA Service Center at 690 Industrial Boulevard, Delta, CO. Light refreshments will be served. For more information or questions, contact DCD district manager Kristie Martin at 874-5726, ext. 121, or go online at www.DeltaCD.net. If you are not able to make the meeting, you can set up an appointment directly with NRCS by calling Amanda Ewing at 874-5726, ext. 111.blog comments powered by Disqus