Bozeman, Mont., Jan. 20, 2016—The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering additional funding through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to target specific resource concerns in Montana in 2016: On-Farm Energy, Organic, Seasonal High Tunnel, Prairie Pothole Wetland and Grassland Retention, Honey Bee Pollinators, Big Horn Irrigation Improvement, and Drought in the Missouri Headwaters Basin.
While NRCS accepts applications for EQIP on a continuous basis, NRCS has set a deadline of Feb. 19, 2016, to apply for 2016 initiatives funding.
Below is an overview of each initiative:
National On-Farm Energy Initiative (NOFEI): NOFEI has two components. In the first component, agricultural producers work with an NRCS-approved Technical Service Provider to develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. In the second component, NRCS may also provide assistance to implement various recommended measures identified in the energy audit through the use of conservation practice standards offered through this initiative.
National Organic Initiative (NOI): NRCS will assist producers with installation of conservation practices on agricultural operations related to organic production. Producers currently certified as organic, transitioning to organic, or National Organic Program exempt will have access to a broad set of conservation practices to assist in treating their resource concerns while fulfilling many of the requirements in an Organic System Plan.
High Tunnel Initiative: NRCS helps producers implement high tunnels that extend growing seasons for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality and fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment.
Prairie Pothole Wetland and Grassland Retention: NRCS will assist producers in 13 counties in Montana to implement conservation practices specifically targeted to encourage the retention of wetland and grasslands in the Prairie Pothole Region, improve wildlife habitat for migratory birds, improve water quality and quantity, improve grassland health, and reduce soil erosion and sedimentation. This initiative will be offered in Blaine, Cascade (north of the Missouri River), Chouteau, Daniels, Glacier, Hill, Lewis and Clark (east of the Divide and north of the Dearborn River), Liberty, Phillips, Pondera, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Teton, Toole and Valley counties.
Honey Bee Pollinators (NEW): NRCS will work with agricultural producers to combat future declines by helping them to implement conservation practices that provide forage for honey bees while enhancing habitat for other pollinators and wildlife and improving the quality of water, air and soil.
Big Horn Irrigation Improvement (NEW): Through this initiative, NRCS will promote irrigation improvements in projects on hay and cropland acres within the Crow Reservation. Producers will be able to switch from open-ditch, flood irrigation to buried pipe and pivot or gate pipe irrigation.
Drought in the Missouri Headwaters Basin (NEW): NRCS will work with landowners in the Missouri Headwaters Basin to increase water conservation; improve riparian, floodplain, and water management; and promote upland management conservation to help mitigate the effects of drought.
EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to eligible participants to install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. Conservation practices must be implemented to NRCS standards and specifications. In Montana, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for eligible conservation practices applied.
Applicants that operate as an entity are required to have a DUNs number and have that number registered with SAM.gov prior to submitting their application for consideration.
For more information about EQIP, or other programs offered by NRCS, please contact your local USDA Service Center or visit www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov.
Source: Montana NRCS