COLUMBIA, MO/August 9, 2017 (STL.News) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced November 17 as the cut-off date to apply for fiscal year 2018 funds through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
EQIP allows farmers, ranchers, forestland managers and landowners to conserve natural resources by making available financial assistance to improve soil, water, air, plants, animals and related resources.
“EQIP provides opportunities for financial assistance statewide to applicants who have natural resource problems on their land, including concerns associated with crops, livestock, forest and wildlife,” State Conservationist J.R. Flores said.
Applicants can sign-up for traditional soil and water conservation practices as well as newer practices aimed at increasing habitat for Monarch butterflies and those focusing on utilizing adaptable cropping systems that increase resiliency.
Soil health will be a priority again in Fiscal Year 2018. Along with helping row crop farmers increase organic matter and water-holding capacity, dedicated funding will be available for farmers and ranchers to incorporate pasture practices that improve soil health through greater diversity and less disturbance. Funding will also be available to address resource concerns through Agroforestry.
The November 17 application deadline also applies to the following initiatives:
On-Farm Energy Initiative – provides financial assistance for farmers and ranchers to identify ways to conserve energy on their farms through on-farm energy audits, and financial assistance to implement recommendations identified in the energy audits.
Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative – provides financial assistance, statewide, for farmers to construct seasonal high tunnels, which extend the growing seasonal for high-value crops in an environmentally safe manner.
Organic Initiative – provides financial assistance, statewide, for farmers to install conservation measures on agricultural operations related to organic production.
Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project – provides financial assistance to help landowners establish Milkweed and other plants critical to the iconic Monarch Butterfly.
Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative – provides financial assistance focusing on limiting nutrient and sediment movement occurring on land in the priority watershed areas. The seven Missouri MRBI watersheds are: James Bayou – St. John’s Diversion Ditch and Mud Ditch (Mississippi and New Madrid Counties); Upper Buffalo Creek Ditch (Dunklin County); Bear Creek – West Yellow Creek (Linn County); Peno Creek and Spencer Creek (Ralls and Pike counties); Sugar Creek and Mission Creek – Missouri River (Buchanan and Platte counties); North River – (Marion, Ralls, Monroe and Shelby counties); Profits Creek – (Osage, Cole, Maries and Miller counties).
National Water Quality Initiative – will provide financial and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers in three watersheds install conservation practices that manage nutrients, pathogens and sediments. The watersheds include: Upper Troublesome Creek (Knox and Lewis counties), Givins Branch – Niangua River (Webster and Dallas counties) and Basin Fork (Pettis and Johnson counties).
Assistance through 10 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects will be available, too. Local partners were awarded RCPP funds to deliver conservation projects in specific regions across the state. The 10 Missouri projects are:
Cover Crops for Soil Health and Water Quality, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Agriculture;
Our Missouri Waters, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources;
Regional Grassland Bird and Grazing Land Enhancement Initiative, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation;
Restoring Glade and Woodland Communities for Threatened Species in the Ozarks of Southeast Missouri, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation;
Northwest Missouri Urban and Rural Farmers United for Conservation, in partnership with the Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation District;
Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies, in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Federation;
Mid-South Graduated Water Stewardship, in partnership with USA Rice;
Northwest Missouri Partnership for Water Quality, in partnership with Holt County, Missouri, Soil and Water Conservation District;
Conservation Ranching Program, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
NRCS accepts applications for all of its programs on a continuous basis, but applications must be filed for these programs by November 17 to be eligible for the next round of funding. Farmers can submit applications at local NRCS offices. NRCS also offers free technical assistance to all Missouri residents.
For more information about NRCS programs and assistance, visit http://www.mo.nrcs.usda.gov or contact the NRCS office serving your county. NRCS employees in county offices can provide more information about how to apply for benefits offered by NRCS.