10:57 AM EST, December 18, 2012
LEXINGTON — 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 Kentucky NRCS first application cutoff period date for consideration for 2013 funds is Jan. 18. Applications received after Jan. 18 will be held until the next application cut-off period, which will be April 19.
NRCS State Conservationist Karen Woodrich announced this month that technical and financial assistance is available to eligible applicants for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. 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 the program. Eligible land includes cropland, pastureland, private non-industrial forestland, and other farm or ranch lands.
EQIP offers several 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.
A second conservation program, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program offers opportunities through the Working Lands for Wildlife, 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 three Kentucky counties, including Bell, Letcher and Harlan.
All recipients of assistance are required to develop a conservation plan. Conservation planning is an integral part of the conservation pro-cess. 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 Woodrich.
For more information on NRCS, conservation planning and conservation programs visit NRCS on the web at www.ky.nrcs.usda.gov. Or visit your local NRCS office. Contact Brandon Campbell, district conservationist, (859) 734-6889 or (859) 583-9099.
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