Farmers and landowners interested in receiving financial assistance through USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) conservation programs should apply by Dec. 1, 2006. It may be the only funding opportunity for 2007, according to Thursday's announcement by the NRCS.
Applications are currently being accepted for the Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
The programs are voluntary and provide incentives such as financial payments and technical assistance for the planning, design and installation of conservation systems. In brief here's what they provide cost-sharing for:
- AMA: Construct or improve irrigation structures, plant trees for windbreaks, implement integrated pest management, or transition to organic farming.
- EQIP: Install or implement structural, vegetative, and management practices. Help is available for erosion control, livestock grazing, livestock nutrient management systems, improvement of irrigation system efficiency, and wildlife habitat establishment.
- WHIP: Enhance wildlife habitat primarily on private land, establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. In Pennsylvania, high WHIP priorities include wildlife grassland habitat and dam removal.
- WRP: Easement payments and restoration cost-share assistance, and technical assistance for wetland restoration and management. Participating landowners can establish conservation easements of either permanent or 30-year duration, or can enter into restoration cost-share agreements where no easement is involved.
To learn more, contact your local USDA NRCS service center listed in the telephone book, or visit NRCS's Web site in your state. In Pennsylvania, it's www.pa.nrcs.usda.gov.