RENO, Dec. 13 — The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is announcing three special initiatives for conservation funding. Bruce Petersen, Nevada state conservationist, announced that the Organic, On-Farm Energy and Seasonal High Tunnel Initiatives are being offered through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program of the 2008 Farm Bill. Interested producers must sign up by Feb. 3 to be considered in the first batching and ranking period.
Certified organic producers and those producers who are considering a transition to organic production methods are encouraged to participate in the Organic Initiative. Participants are eligible for up to $20,000 in annual payments not to exceed $80,000 payment limit over a 6-year period.
Certified organic producers must provide a copy of their Organic System Plan (OSP) and organic certification must be maintained for the life of the contract. Producers transitioning to organic production must self certify that they agree to develop and implement an OSP and provide contact information of the applicant’s USDA accredited organic certifying agent before an EQIP contract can be approved. Organic producers selling less than $5,000 per year in organic agricultural products are exempt from the organic certification but are still eligible for the EQIP Organic Initiative. Funding is also available for applicants to develop Conservation Activity Plans provided by a registered third party technical service provider.
On-Farm Energy Initiative
The On-Farm Energy Initiative helps producers install energy conserving practices such as residue/tillage management, irrigation water management, pumping plants, windbreaks or shelterbelts, and farmstead energy improvements. Producers must provide proof of operational energy savings for conservation measures to be installed. Receipts, invoices or records of historical energy consumption will be used to determine the potential benefits of the new, proposed practices during the ranking process. For energy measures installed on headquarters and agricultural buildings, producers work with technical service providers to develop an Ag Energy Management Plan. Funding to implement theAgEMP is also available through this initiative.
Seasonal High Tunnels
Under the Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, participants may install high tunnels that total up to 2,178 square feet in size. Payments are based on the size of the high tunnel being planned and installed.
For these initiatives, if funds are still available after the first ranking period, subsequent ranking and batching deadlines will be March 30 and June 1, 2012. Producers must meet all USDA program eligibility criteria to participate.
For complete details and to apply for funding, contact your local NRCS office.