The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Maine would like to remind agricultural and forest producers that the deadline for applying for funding for six conservation initiatives is fast approaching. Funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), applications are being accepted for Conservation Activity Plans (CAPS), On-Farm Energy, Organic, Seasonal High Tunnel, Irrigation, and New England/New York Forestry initiatives for Fiscal Year 2013. The application deadline is December 21, 2012.
Individuals interested in submitting an application may do so at any time; however, applications received for these initiatives by the December 21, 2012 deadline will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2013.
The following is a brief description of each of the initiatives:
• NRCS offers financial assistance for the development of Conservation Activity Plans. A Conservation Activity Plan is a specialized plan prepared specifically for a conservation management unit. Financial assistance is available for the development of the following conservation plans: Agricultural Energy Management, Comprehensive Nutrient Management, Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition, Fish and Wildlife Habitat, Forest Management, Grazing Management, Integrated Pest Management, Nutrient Management, and Pollinator Habitat Enhancement.
• Through the On-Farm Energy Initiative, an Agricultural Energy Management Plan, or farm energy audit, is developed that assesses energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. From these recommendations, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to implement some of the conservation practices that were recommended.
• NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production through the Organic Initiative. Funding is available to help producers plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns in ways that are consistent with organic production.
• Through the Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels — steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and better air quality due to fewer vehicles being needed to transport crops.
• NRCS offers funding for Irrigation practices on lands with an irrigation history of at least 2 out of the last 5 years. Technical and financial assistance is available to growers for irrigation-related practices such as irrigation water management plans, irrigation sprinkler or micro-irrigation systems, and alternative irrigation water sources.
• Funding is available to assist Maine forest landowners with forest land planning and management of their private forests to improve wildlife habitat, forest health and productivity, and water quality through the New England/New York Forestry Initiative. Eligible conservation practices through this initiative include, but are not limited to, forest stand improvement, early successional habitat development and management, tree/shrub site preparation and establishment, upland wildlife habitat management, stream crossings, riparian forest buffers, fish passage, forest trails and landings, conservation cover, and access roads.
For more information go to www.me.nrcs.usda.gov or contact your nearest USDA Service Center, listed online at http://offices.usda.gov or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department.
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