Sign Up Deadline Extended
Due to the recent government shutdown and 16-day closure of USDA Service Centers, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has extended the signup deadline for their most popular program. State Conservationist Jimmy Bramblett announced that farmers interested in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) now have until Dec. 20 to apply for 2014 funding. Applications are being taken at all USDA Service Centers in Wisconsin.
EQIP is the primary program available to farmers for farmland conservation work, offering payments for over 90 basic conservation practices.
"EQIP the Environmental Quality Incentives Program - is still authorized through a continuation of the old 2008 Farm Bill," said Bramblett. "All offices are now open and are working on the backlog of requests as quickly as possible."
All eligible applications received by Dec. 20 will be evaluated and ranked for funding. Farmers can sign up at the NRCS office in USDA Service Centers statewide. Last year, Wisconsin received about $32 million in funds for EQIP.
Bramblett reminds farmers who are interested in signing up for practices that may require state or local permits, such as manure storage systems or streambank restoration, should begin planning and seeking permits as soon as possible. Applicants with permits already in hand are ranked high priority for funding; those with permits in process are medium priority and those without permits begun receive low priority for funding.
Organic, Energy and High Tunnels Very Popular Sign up by Dec. 20
Special sign-up opportunities are also now open for On-Farm Energy, Organic, and Seasonal High Tunnel conservation practices. All three initiatives offer technical and financial assistance through the NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Special Conservation Initiative Focuses on Driftless Area
Wisconsin will receive additional funds this year to address conservation needs in the Driftless Area. The Driftless area includes southwest Wisconsin as well as the adjacent portions of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The focus will be to reduce soil erosion and improve fish and wildlife habitat on the working lands, woodlands, prairies, and cold water streams in the Driftless Area.
Farm and woodland owners in the Driftless Area may apply by Dec. 20 for for financial assistance for conservation practices in 2014. Many practices are available depending on the land use and conservation need.
Interested landowners should contact the NRCS office at the USDA Service Center for their county. For more information, visit www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov, or contact the NRCS office at the USDA Service Center serving your county.