Beat the June 30 Deadline for 2012 NRCS Financial Assistance Initiatives
Posted: May 4, 2012
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Financial Assistance Initiatives
To: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Northampton, and Montgomery County Specialty Crop and Livestock Producers
To find out more about any of these programs, or for help completing your application before the June 30 deadline, please contact Ian Phelps, Conservation Outreach Specialist, Southeastern PA Resource Conservation & Development Council, firstname.lastname@example.org , or give him a call: 610.346.9037
NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. There will be three ranking periods for the Organic, On-Farm Energy and Seasonal High Tunnel initiatives, all ending on February 3, March 30 and June 1, 2012. Ranking periods for the Air Quality Initiative end February 3 and March 30, 2012. At the end of a ranking period, NRCS ranks all submitted proposals for funding consideration. NRCS will notify all applicants of the results of the rankings and begin developing contracts with selected applicants.
On-Farm Energy Initiative: NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. Each AgEMP has a landscape component that assesses equipment and farming processes and a farm headquarters component that assesses power usage and efficiencies in livestock buildings, grain handling operations, and similar facilities to support the farm operation.
Organic Initiative: NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production. New for fiscal year 2012, applicants will be evaluated continuously during the ranking periods. Applications meeting or exceeding a threshold score may be approved for an EQIP contract before the end of the ranking period. Applications rating below the threshold score will be deferred to the next period. A new threshold score will be established at the beginning of each ranking period. This new scoring process allows organic producers to implement conservation practices in a timelier manner.
Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot 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. More than 4,000 high tunnels have been planned and implemented nationwide through this initiative over the past two years.
Air Quality Initiative: NRCS helps producers address air quality concerns on their operations. Assistance includes establishing cover crops, planting windbreaks, implementing nutrient management practices and applying other conservation measures that mitigate and prevent air quality problems. Conservation practices installed through this initiative reduce airborne particulate matter and greenhouse gases and conserve energy.
To sign up, visit your USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) local service center. Bucks & Montgomery: 215.453.9527 (ext. 3); Berks: 610.372.4655 (ext. 3); Chester & Delaware: 610.696.0398 (ext. 3); Lehigh & Northampton: 610.625.8392 (ext. 3), or contact Gwendolyn Crews, PA-NRCS 717.237.2218 http://www.pa.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/Organic/index.html
For more information, please contact your local NRCS office at the number listed above, or call Ian Phelps at 610.346.9037