NRCS Announces Funding Through National Water Quality Initiative
NRCS Provides Assistance for Agricultural Producers to Improve Water Quality
COLCHESTER, VT - USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide $80,000 in assistance to Vermont farmers in the Rock River watershed who voluntarily make improvements to their land to improve water quality.
Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Ann Mills announced this year’s funding for the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) today during the twice-a-year Hypoxia Task Force meeting, held this week in Little Rock, Arkansas. The initiative helps farmers reduce the runoff of nutrients, sediment and pathogens from agricultural land that can flow into waterways.
For the past three years, NRCS in Vermont has focused resources of the NWQI to the Rock River watershed in Franklin County. With the help of local, state and national partners, NRCS identified this sub-watershed of Lake Champlain as a priority where on-farm conservation investment will deliver the greatest water quality benefits.
“This targeted approach provides a way to accelerate voluntary, private lands conservation investments to improve water quality and to focus funds where they are most needed,” said State Conservationist, Vicky M. Drew. “When multiple farms take action in one area, one watershed, it can make a difference. It can stop an algae bloom downstream or keep bacteria from reaching a drinking water source.”
State water quality agencies and local partners also provide assistance with watershed planning, and assistance for conservation, along with outreach to farmers and ranchers. Through NWQI, these partnerships are growing and offering a model for collaborative work in other watersheds.
Eligible landowners will receive assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for installing conservation systems that help avoid, trap and control run-off. These practices include agronomic practices like nutrient management, cover crops, and filter strips, as well as structural practices typically found around barnyards. Recently available innovative practices such as the Phosphorus Removal System are also available through NWQI.
Applications for the NWQI must be submitted by June 20 to be considered for 2014 funding. If a farmer cannot meet this deadline, NRCS accepts applications on a continuous basis throughout the year to be assessed in the next available funding round. Check with your local NRCS office or the Vermont NRCS website to learn more about NRCS financial and technical assistance services.
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