NRCS in Kentucky encourages 2014 Farm Bill Program participation

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article courtesy of the USDA
Natural Resources Conservation Service in Kentucky is encouraging landowners, farmers and producers to visit their local NRCS office now to receive information and apply for conservation technical assistance and possible financial funding opportunities.The application process for NRCS’s conservation programs is continuous, but funding selections for specific programs are made throughout the year. For the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentive
Applications received after January 17, 2014, will be held until the next application cut off period, which will be April 18, 2014.NRCS Acting State Conservationist Jack Kuhn announced this month that technical and financial assistance is available to eligible applicants for the EQIP. EQIP is a conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. Through EQIP, NRCS develops contracts with agricultural producers to voluntarily implement conservation practices. Persons engaged in livestock or agricultural production and owners of non-industrial private forestland are eligible for this program. Eligible land includes cropland, pastureland, private non-industrial forestland, and other farm or ranch lands.
EQIP offers several National and State Initiatives which include the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative, Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, Organic Initiative, On-Farm Energy Initiative, Wildlife Initiative, and Forestry Initiative. Interested land users should visit their local NRCS Office to find out what opportunities are available through each of these EQIP Initiatives.A second conservation program, WHIP, offers opportunities through the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), which focuses on the recovery of certain at-risk, threatened or endangered wildlife species while helping other vulnerable and game species that depend on similar habitat. In Kentucky, the Golden-winged Warbler is the species of concern for parts of 12 Kentucky counties including Bell, Clay, Floyd, Harlan, Knott, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, McCreary, Perry, Pike and Whitley.
“We’re urging producers to get their applications in as soon as possible to be considered for this year’s funding,” said Kuhn.All recipients of assistance are required to develop a conservation plan. Conservation planning is an integral part of the conservation process. Landowners should work with a conservation planner to develop the plan based on the landowner’s operational goals to improve the productivity, sustainability and profitability of their operation. The conservation plan will serve as a roadmap to a variety of technical assistance and financial assistance through EQIP and WHIP, as well as other options available to the landowner. “We’re getting back to our roots with conservation planning,” says Kuhn. “Conservation planning is the vital first step in understanding natural resources on your land, and also understanding how technical and financial conservation assistance can be incorporated into your operation to help you help the land.” He added, “Now is the time to contact your local NRCS Field Office to develop a conservation plan.”
For more information visit NRCS on the web at www.ky.nrcs.usda.gov or contact your local NRCS service center at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.