Thursday, November 3, 2022

Habitat Conservation

Deadline Nearing to Apply for $63 Million in Conservation Funding Assistance

Agricultural producers still have an opportunity to apply for conservation funding assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Opportunities made possible through the farm bill include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Approximately $53 million will be made available for conservation practices and initiatives conducted through EQIP. Additionally, approximately $11 million will be made available through CSP.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California has indicated that December 9 is the deadline to apply. Although NRCS will accept applications for both EQIP and CSP throughout the year, the coming deadline is the first application cutoff period. A secondary cutoff period could be coming in the Spring of 2023 depending on the federal funding that is available.

The conservation funding assistance available through EQIP includes $20 million to help farmers replace on-farm engines through the National Air Quality Initiative. Additionally, $5 million is designated for supporting wildlife habitat creation and enhancement on agricultural lands. EQIP also supports NRCS and Bureau of Reclamation WaterSmart partner projects to improve water infrastructure, delivery, and application on farms. Fire hazard reduction vegetation management is also supported through EQIP, along with the National Water Quality Initiative to improve water quality in the Calleguas Creek and Salt River watersheds.

CSP provides payments to farmers and ranchers that are actively engaged in conservation activities on their operations. Conservation activities include ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and cover crops. The practices are intended to help producers improve soil health and protect water quality. CSP activities also include practices that will help promote pollinator and beneficial insect habitat.

NRCS is specifically setting aside EQIP and CSP funds for historically underserved producers. Qualifying producers are eligible for advance payments through EQIP for upfront costs of conservation activities. Historically underserved producers can receive higher EQIP payment rates.

Source: AgNet West