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Apply by Oct. 29 to be considered in first round of funding for conservation programs



Nevada agricultural producers who apply by Oct. 29 will be considered in the first round for funding for conservation programs. Applications are being accepted for Nevada’s three most popular conservation programs: Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Agricultural Management Assistance and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. In 2009 and 2010, Nevada producers qualified for more than $17 million in financial assistance through these programs, according to the NRCS.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary, technical and financial assistance program designed to help farmers improve irrigation efficiency; manage nutrient run-off and/or animal waste; improve the health of native plant communities; and reduce soil loss. In most instances, producers who participate in the program pay for roughly half of the costs of the conservation measures or practices.

Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) provides cost share assistance to producers to voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporating conservation into their farming operations. Producers may construct or improve water management structures or irrigation structures; plant trees for windbreaks or to improve water quality; and mitigate risk through production diversification or resource conservation practices, including soil erosion control, integrated pest management, or transition to organic farming.

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for conservation-minded landowners who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land, and Indian land.

Eligible producers may receive a payment based on the statewide average cost of the installation of the conservation practice. Socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers are eligible for a higher payment based on the statewide average cost of the installation of the conservation practice. In addition, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers can receive up to 30 percent advanced payment for purchasing materials or contracting.

Interested producers should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements. Applicants who want to be considered for a fiscal year 2011 contract under these three programs will need to have a signed application on file by Oct. 29.

The Oct. 29 sign-up deadline is for Nevada’s general EQIP funding. According to the NRCS, there may be additional ranking deadlines later in the year for some of the EQIP special initiatives such as sage-grouse, organic and possibly others.

According to Bill Elder, assistant state conservationist, NRCS programs operate on a year-round sign-up basis and producers can file applications at any time. Periodic ranking deadlines are established and applications on file at that time can be evaluated for the next available funding allocation.

Interested agricultural producers are encouraged to contact their local USDA service center office for assistance and complete details, or check the agency’s web site at www.nrcs.usda.gov.

NRCS is celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. Since 1935, NRCS has helped people help the land, keeping water clean, air fresh and land productive.

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